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Gun safety bill heads to Senate

April 05, 2001

Gun safety bill heads to Senate



By LAURA ERNDE

laurae@herald-mail.com

How they voted


Following is how local legislators voted on a vote to require public schools to teach gun safety. A "yes" vote was to require public schools to teach gun safety:

  • Donoghue: No
  • McKee: No
  • Shank - No
  • Bartlett - No
  • Hecht - Yes
  • Snodgrass - No


ANNAPOLIS - The Maryland House of Delegates passed legislation Thursday requiring that gun safety be taught in public schools.

Most Washington County lawmakers voted against the bill, which was sent to the Senate on a 98-33 vote.

"This is a very, very small step to deal with a big problem. We're just saying gun safety is a problem and we need to address it," said Del. James W. Campbell, D-Baltimore.

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Gun safety education could be integrated into other subjects such as health. A 15-minute presentation to elementary school children could qualify, supporters said.

The Washington County Board of Education would decide the scope of the classes, following guidelines to be set by the Maryland State Board of Education.

"I don't want the state board formalizing a statewide plan and forcing it on Washington County," said Del. John P. Donoghue, D-Washington.

Del. Joseph R. Bartlett, R-Frederick/Washington, said he voted against the bill in his committee as well as on the floor Thursday.

"We already have such a diluted curriculum that I was concerned that mandating this was going to further dilute the curriculum. Local boards already have the flexibility to do this now. I just don't think it's necessary," he said.

Del. Louise V. Snodgrass, R-Frederick/Washington, had planned to vote for the classes to address the problem of accidental gun deaths, but several local gun clubs persuaded her to vote against it.

Del. Sue Hecht, D-Frederick/Washington, had reservations about the mandate but said she voted in favor of the bill because of the importance of gun safety.

"I wish there was another way of doing it, but this is a way we can reach a broad range of children," she said.

The bill, sponsored by House Speaker Casper R. Taylor Jr., D-Allegany, now heads to the Senate.

Sen. Donald F. Munson, R-Washington, said he supports the concept.

"People need to respect weapons and maybe this will help them do that," he said.

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