The Harford County Council passed a resolution Tuesday, by a 6-1 vote, criticizing the state's new gun safety bill.
The resolution says the Firearms Safety Act, which bans the sale of 45 kinds of rifles and magazines and requires "law-abiding citizens" to submit fees, background checks and training, contains sections which "may be" unconstitutional.
The bill recommends county government further analyze the bill to ensure it does not violate citizen rights.
The resolution is sponsored by Council members Dion Guthrie, Joe Woods and Dick Slutzky. Guthrie is a Democrat, while Slutzky and Woods are Republicans. Woods also owns a store in Bel Air that sells weapons.
The resolution clarifies it would not negate provisions of new gun laws that would ban weapon use by felons and those with a history of mental illness, or those that require "reasonable safety training."
Guthrie said the Cecil County Council recently passed a similar resolution.
"It's getting to the point that the state of Maryland keeps shoving all these changes on the county and keeps shoving all these unfunded mandates, it's time the county stands on its own two feet and stops accepting [it]," he said, noting there is nevertheless no money involved in the state bill.
Sheriff Jesse Bane said the resolution would not cause any hardship for the Harford County Sheriff's Office, Guthrie said.
Woods said he is very proud to be part of this resolution.
"It's a small message that we're sending but it's one of great importance," he said, adding it was "so sad" the majority of state legislators did not even want to listen when he talked to them about the bill.
Woods noted he does agree with parts of the state bill, such as allowing law enforcement officers to own high-capacity magazines.
He also noted he was happy to see Guthrie on board, to which Guthrie replied: "My wife just bought one of your guns."
Slutzky said he rarely tries to respond emotionally and after "dozens and dozens of hours" on the U.N. site for crime and drugs and analyzing FBI crime statistics for the past 30 years, he realized the public has the impression that violent crime has been increasing exponentially.
The homicide rate in the U.S., however, has gone down by 40 to 50 percent, Slutzky said, while the sale of firearms has increased "exponentially" since the 2004 assault weapon ban was removed.
Crimes besides homicide with firearms, Slutzky said, have gone down 60 percent in the U.S.
"We are actually arguably the second safest country in the Western hemisphere for crimes with firearms," Slutzky said.
He said Johns Hopkins University's studies on the subject have been biased because the university's Bloomberg School of Public Health has been heavily funded by Michael Bloomberg, the Mayor of New York City, who has been promoting anti-gun violence.
After reading Slutzky's comments on line, Daniel Webster, a professor and the director of the Johns Hopkins Center for Gun Policy and Research, said Slutzky was wrong.
"I direct the Johns Hopkins Center for Gun Policy and Research, and have been conducting research on gun policy for the past 23 years. Over this time, I have led numerous studies related to gun violence and published the results in 78 articles in scientific journals," Webster wrote in a letter to the editor that appears in its entirety on Page A8. "Those journals require that articles be independently reviewed and vetted by other experts in the field before accepting them for publication...The principle of academic freedom is one of the standards of responsible conduct of research I follow as a faculty member of Johns Hopkins University. This stipulates that the design, conduct and reporting of research must be independent of potential influence or biases from the funding source. Mayor Bloomberg does not dictate, oversee or vet my research, nor has he ever attempted to influence anything that I write or say pertaining to gun policy."
He called Slutzky's comments a "distraction."