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Various gun bills considered at state level

Local representatives of sportsmen's groups in Annapolis for hearings

February 21, 2012|By ANDREW SCHOTZ | andrews@herald-mail.com

It was “gun day” in the Maryland House Judiciary Committee on Tuesday, when numerous gun-related bills were heard by state lawmakers.

Washington County was represented by Joe Winter, the president of the Washington County Federation of Sportsmen’s Clubs; Ray Givens, the legislative representative of the Western Maryland Sportsmen’s Coalition; and James Warner of Rohrersville.

Givens and Winter said the group came to testify about a handful of gun bills in particular.

The first one, whose hearing lasted much of the afternoon, was a proposal to change the standard for issuing a handgun permit in Maryland.

Currently, applicants must provide a “good and substantial reason” for getting a permit. The bill proposes shifting the burden to the Maryland State Police to determine if there is a good reason why the applicant should not get a permit.

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Another bill of interest to the group would let a bow hunter at least 21 years old carry a handgun for personal protection, Givens said.

Givens said he and Winter also objected to a proposal to create a task force to study access to regulated firearms for people with mental illnesses. He said he was concerned the bill could lead to a recommendation to keep firearms from people diagnosed with mental conditions, such as bulimia, that shouldn’t disqualify them.

Del. Luiz R.S. Simmons, D-Montgomery, who sponsored the task force bill, told the committee that the legislature should look at the issue now instead of reacting to a crisis.

Givens, however, alleged that Simmons was trying to load the task force with people opposed to gun rights.

In a letter to the committee, Winter wrote that his federation supports eight proposed firearms bills and opposes six.

One bill on the “support” list would allow firearm licenses issued in nearby states to also be valid in Maryland.

One bill on the “oppose” list would prohibit someone from possessing a firearm, rifle or shotgun in Maryland if the person was convicted of certain federal charges or offenses in another state.

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