More than a month after their success in this year’s General Assembly, gun control campaigners are still smiling. And wondering if their success might be duplicated elsewhere.
Their wins keep coming. Their main opponent, the National Rifle Association, chose not to take one of the strictest gun laws in the nation to referendum – and Maryland-based opponents could not gather enough signatures to get the matter before the voters.
Vinny DeMarco, president of Marylanders To Prevent Gun Violence, says voters in this state see fingerprint and licensing as a common sense control that won’t affect hunters or target shooters. Fingerprinting is designed to keep guns out of the hands of criminals by reducing so-called “straw purchases.” A relative or friend won’t be so willing to buy a gun for a felon if they know they, themselves, could go to jail as a result.
Legislators who voted for licensing are not afraid of retaliation from the NRA or other groups in Maryland, DeMarco says. “Candidates who voted for the bill will be running on that vote. And voters will be more likely to favor their re-election because they did vote for the law,” he says. He expects candidates for governor and for other statewide offices will endorse the bill as well.
The reality of the political situation, he said, provides another illustration of a disturbing dichotomy: the NRA’s power in Washington versus feelings of the voters – many of whom told pollsters they wanted tighter controls.
Given popular support, DeMarco thinks prospects for passing measures like fingerprinting laws should be higher in some other states. Though it is a very liberal state, DeMarco said he thinks Maryland’s success could encourage other states to make Maryland a model.