Maryland Rations Free Speech To Restrict Firearm Freedom

posted on March 14, 2016

As long as any criminal ever gets any firearm and uses it to commit any crime, anti-gun legislators in Maryland will continue pushing laws to restrict the right of law-abiding citizens to keep and bear arms.

That was the message gun-rights activists heard from Democrat state Sen. Jamie Raskin Wednesday, as hundreds of pro-gun activists, many of them wearing orange stickers that read “Guns Save Lives,” turned out in Annapolis to oppose several anti-gun proposals currently moving through the Maryland statehouse. 

“We’re going to stop when we get to a death toll of zero in the state of Maryland,” Raskin defiantly said. “That’s when we’re going to stop.” 

In other words, never“We’re going to stop [pushing gun control] when we get to a death toll of zero in the state of Maryland,” Raskin defiantly said. “That’s when we’re going to stop.”

At the same time, former NYC Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s anti-gun group, Moms Demand Action, staged its own rally to express support for the anti-gun schemes. 

More than 400 people signed up to testify before the Maryland Senate’s Judicial Proceedings Committee, which was set to consider 16 gun-related bills. As one pro-gun activist, Paul Brockman of Elkridge, told the Annapolis Capital Gazette, “We’re just using our First Amendment rights to defend our Second Amendment rights.” 

But gun-rights advocates found their First Amendment rights being rationed, as well: The committee chairman, Democrat Sen. Bobby Zirkin, deigned to hear only limited testimony on the bills, limiting witnesses to a maximum of 90 seconds of testimony each. 

“We’re endorsing some very modest proposals,” said Democrat Senate President Thomas V. “Mike” Miller Jr. 

So here’s a modest proposal: If they’re going to limit the people they represent to just a minute and a half of testimony each, why not also give legislators a gong—or better yet, one of those funny bicycle horns that clowns carry—to reject the people midway through their testimony, as they sit in mirth and judgment of the people who pay their salaries? 

Unfortunately, the bills the Maryland statehouse is considering are no laughing matter. 

One proposal, Senate Bill 1040, would deny lawful citizens their Fifth and 14th Amendment right to due process in order to deny their Second Amendment rights—by barring anyone on the so-called “Terrorist Watch List” from exercising their constitutional right to own a gun. 

Never mind that there’s no way for you to know whether, when, how, why or by whom you might have been added to that list, since you need not have ever been charged, let alone convicted of any crime to be included. But if your name is on it, under SB 1040, you lose your right to own any gun. 

Although SB 1040 isn’t scheduled for consideration until this Wednesday (March 16) U.S. Rep. Chris Van Hollen, a Democrat running for the U.S. Senate this year, was allowed to speak in support of the bill. Chances are, the only reason Van Hollen testified was to get his face, his name and his soundbite on TV in front of voters, but it’s a shame he chose to do so in a way that misleads voters about SB 1040. 

“It’s just common sense that if ... you can’t get on an airplane, then you shouldn’t be able to get a semi-automatic weapon,” Van Hollen said, suggesting that SB 1040’s gun ban would apply only to people on the so-called “No-Fly List,” rather than the much larger and less carefully overseen “Terrorist Watch List.” 

According to Newsweek, the “Terrorist Watch List” contains nearly 17 times as many Americans as the “No-Fly List,” which means SB 1040 would deny the constitutional rights of 17 times as many Americans as Rep. Van Hollen suggested. 

What’s more, as the Baltimore Sun reported, Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan has suggested the bill is unnecessary, since the Maryland State Police already screen firearm purchasers. 

In what may be the crowning insult to freedom-loving Maryland residents, it appears that at Wednesday’s hearing on SB 1040, only the sponsor of the bill will be guaranteed the right to testify, and opponents will be heard “where appropriate” —meaning that instead of just 90 seconds, they may be limited to none. So much for free speech in the capital of the so-called “Free State.” If they’re going to limit the people they represent to just a minute and a half of testimony each, why not also give legislators a gong to reject the people midway through their testimony?

Other bills scheduled for Senate committee consideration include, most notably, a bill mandating so-called “universal” background checks—at least for all lawful firearms sales in the state; and a ban on firearms on state university campuses. 

The latter bill would subject violators to penalties of up to three years in prison and a $1,000 fine. 

On the good side, one bill would require Maryland to honor Right-to-Carry permits from jurisdictions that border the state of Maryland—Delaware, Pennsylvania, Virginia, West Virginia and Washington, D.C.

But most of the 16 gun-related proposals would restrict, rather than expand, your right to keep and bear arms. 

Apparently it’s not enough for Maryland’s gun-hating, freedom-distrusting politicians that the state already has some of the strictest anti-gun laws in the nation.

In 2014, Maryland (like New York) banned semi-automatic rifles such as the AR-15, the fastest-selling rifle in America, and banned magazines that hold more than 10 rounds. But then they went even further than New York, requiring that handgun purchasers be fingerprinted and undergo training before being permitted to buy a handgun. 

Apparently these anti-gun politicians learned nothing from the sorry episode of Maryland’s 2014 election, when then-Gov. Martin O’Malley’s hand-picked successor, Anthony Brown, cynically tried to run his campaign on the weak sauce of gun control—and lost.  

They’ve also apparently learned nothing from the fact that despite all their anti-gun laws after all these years, Maryland is still near the top in terms of murder, rape, robbery and the rest. 

Among America’s 76 largest cities (those with populations over 250,000), Baltimore, Md., is topped by only five other cities when it comes to the overall violent crime rate. And the state of Maryland, despite having the nation’s highest median household income in 2013, has a higher violent crime rate than 42 other states

So maybe it’s time Maryland’s voters gave these politicians a crash course.

Use Your Power!

Maryland residents, identify and contact your state representatives in Annapolis and tell them to stop trying to deny you your Second Amendment right to keep and bear arms. If they don’t do so, vote them out on Election Day. Find your representative here.


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