A Montgomery County woman who has split with other Second Amendment activists on how to fight Gov. Martin O'Malley's recently passed gun safety bill said Friday that she has received the green light to begin a petition drive to bring the issue to a referendum.
Sue Payne said has received approval from the State Board of Elections for the form and summary wording of the petitions she intends to circulate as she seeks signatures to put the gun bill, which O'Malley is expect to sign later this month, on the 2014 ballot.
Payne said she intends to create a new web site called Free State Petitions to gather signatures. She would need more than 55,000 valid signatures by June 30 to put the question on the ballot. One-third of them would need to be submitted by May 31.
O'Malley's firearms legislation would ban future sales of some guns classified assault weapons, along with magazines that hold more than 10 bullets. Among other provisions, it wood also require licensing and training of handgun purchasers. The legislation provoked fierce opposition from gun rights advocates, but it passed with the support of most Democrats in the General Assembly.
Payne's petition drive represents a split within the gun rights forces over how to contest the legislation. The National Rifle Association has decided to challenge the law in court rather than at the polls, and most other gun rights activists seem to have accepted that strategy.
Del. Neil Parrott, a Western Maryland Republican who created a web site with a proven track record of generating signatures for referendum petitions, said last month that he agrees with the NRA. He said his MDPetitions.com would not seek to put the gun legislation on the ballot.
"This is a constitutional right that should not go to the citizens to vote on," Parrott said.
But Payne is rejecting that argument and the NRA strategy. She believes gun rights activists stand a better chance with the voters than they do in the courts.
Payne said that if nothing else, gathering enough signatures to put the question on the ballot would automatically delay the implementation of the law until the voters can decide.
"What we're doing is preserving the Second Amendment rights for folks for at least another 17 months," she said.