Gun control no answer for violent crime

Several recent articles in The Sun have focused on Gov. Martin O'Malley's proposed assault weapons ban ("O'Malley battling for gun controls," March 22). These articles all seem to have a common theme, the push for Marylanders to get on board the governor's agenda.

It seems this push for support comes after many thousands of Marylanders who support their Second Amendment rights and disagree with Mr. O'Malley's approach to the state's violent crime issue have stood up and made their voices heard. Opponents of this legislation have made multiple trips to Annapolis to testify and rally, sent millions of e-mails, made tens of thousands of phone calls and even recently packed the State House just to show the lawmakers that they are still around and are paying attention.

So why are so many Marylanders against the governor's legislation? The reality is everyone in Maryland would like to see a reduction in violent crime. There just seems to be a disagreement about what would really have the most impact and in turn do the most good.

From those opposed to the legislation we do hear some common themes. They realize that the overwhelming majority of violent crime committed in Maryland has nothing to do with these so-called "assault weapons." As gun owners, they understand that these commonly used semi-automatic firearms, in all of their different configurations, are no more dangerous than any other civilian weapon. In fact, these firearms are used safely by law abiding citizens daily for many different sporting activities. Again, according to FBI statistics, these firearms are not the ones being used by criminals in Maryland. Ultimately, criminals prefer stolen handguns which they obtain themselves, purchase out of car trunks, or through a drug trade.

Another common theme is that the focus needs to be on the criminals who are committing the crimes. The reality is the criminals do not follow the laws that are already in place and making new laws restricting law abiding firearms owners would really have no effect on violent crime. Representatives from the Maryland Sheriffs' Association have also made several trips to Annapolis to testify about the need to put more emphasis on the criminals. The Maryland sheriffs agree that the governor's proposed legislation is not the solution.

Unfortunately, Maryland does have a problem with violent crime. There are too many murders, rapes, armed robberies, etc. in this state. Most of the individuals committing these crimes are repeat offenders. The only true solution that is going to have a real effect is to really start to focus on these people and holding them truly accountable.

Again, everyone wants a safer Maryland. Ultimately, Mr. O'Malley's proposal is not the best solution to Maryland's violence that is played out every day on the streets of Baltimore and elsewhere around the state. Marylanders deserve an effective solution to those problems, not some feel good initiative meant to further the political agenda and presidential aspirations of our current governor.

Joseph Graves, White Marsh

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