The House of Delegates began final debate Wednesday on Gov. Martin O'Malley's gun-bill that would give Maryland some of the country's strictest gun laws.
The discussion resumed after a six-hours of debate Tuesday night that was dominated by attempts from Republicans and conservative Democrats to weaken key provisions, including a ban on the sale of assault weapons and requiring fingerprints and a license to buy a handgun.
Within the opening minutes of the debate, key committees offered another set of changes that would allow off-duty police officers to carry guns at schools, that would repeal a previous change to allow 18-year-olds in the military to buy regulated guns, that would no longer exempt members of the little known Maryland Defense Force from the assault weapons ban and would clarify how people may still buy assault weapons if they place orders before the ban takes effect.
The House version of O'Malley's bill, which already passed the Senate in a different form, has many changes that will require lawmakers to work out the differences. The session ends on Monday. Del. Kathleen Dumais, a Montgomery County Democrat and vice chair of the House Judiciary Committee, said the some of Wednesday's committee changes will make the bill "more palatable" to senators who expressed concerns about the House version.
More attempts to change the law could come Wednesday as the final floor debate on guns continues through the day.
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