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Speak out against gun control — if the General Assembly will let you

I am one of the thousands who took time away from work and my family to spend hours in Annapolis on Feb. 6 to attend the rally in opposition to Senate Bill 281 and the Senate committee hearing on the same proposal ("Opinions differ on Md. gun controls," Feb. 7).

I was appalled when at 9 p.m., the committee stated that it would no longer listen to the testimony of the hundreds who had waited all day and followed the necessary protocol to be heard. The committee would only hear the individual's name, place of residence, and if for or against the bill. Even before 9, members of the committee where calling citizens "chicken" and speaking over those who were giving professional testimony. This is an insult to every single one of those individuals' time, effort, and opinions. I find it deeply disturbing that the individuals who are elected and paid by the people could not respect the public. They should have listened politely and they should have sat in their chairs until every last one of their constituents, who were not being paid to be there, had their full say.

I urge our state, its citizens and its politicians, to not support this bill or any of its companion bills. This legislation will not solve the problem of gun violence. It will not keep the guns out of the hands of criminals. It will only give criminals more confidence in knowing that the opposition to them will be minimized.

Specifically, I strongly oppose the licensing portion of this bill. It is essentially a poll tax that will violate the civil rights of all and it will limit lower-income families from exercising their Second Amendment rights. Maryland already has a record of every firearm purchased in the state. Licensing will not give the state added information and will not keep those who are already obtaining guns illegally from obtaining them. Additionally, how exactly is an individual supposed to demonstrate "proficiency and use" of a firearm, which is required in order to obtain a license, if they are not able to rent or own a gun before obtaining that license?

Maryland legislators are acting to limit the penalties for criminals (witness the current push to abolish the death penalty) at the same time they are attempting to pass gun legislation that will not harm the criminal but the law-abiding citizen. This truly is contradictory. If the goal is to make Maryland safer, they should pass legislation that will create mandatory sentences for crimes committed with a firearm and for those who assist individuals in obtaining the firearm illegally. Let's crack down on the criminal, not the law-abiding citizens who only wish to exercise their constitutional rights.

It is the responsibility of all of us to speak out and let their representatives know how we feel. Please do not become complacent and think that others will speak for you. We must show our representatives that opposition to this bill and any companion bill is very strong. The fight for Second Amendment rights will not stop. Please protect your rights and oppose this bill.

Mindy Haines, Millersville

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