A Baltimore County councilwoman has introduced legislation she says is intended to prevent teens from getting their hands on guns.
Vicki Almond, a Reisterstown Democrat who is running for county executive, wants to prohibit people from having loaded firearms in a place where an unsupervised minor under age 18 could get access to them.
The bill introduced Monday largely mirrors existing state law, which prohibits anyone from leaving a loaded firearm somewhere where the person "knew or should have known" that an unsupervised child under age 16 could gain access to it.
Almond's bill would be more strict than state law because it would include 16- and 17-year-olds. Under both existing state law and Almond's proposal, violators would face a misdemeanor charge.
With promises of more transparent government, better-trained police and improved public schools, for of the leading candidates for Baltimore County executive made their pitch to voters at a forum in Woodlawn Saturday afternoon.
Almond said she is naming the bill "Leia's Law" for her now 16-year-old granddaughter. Two years ago, she said, her granddaughter was accidentally shot in the foot at the home of a 15-year-old friend. The girl underwent surgery to save her foot.
"It was quite traumatic for the whole family, but especially for Leia," Almond said.
The legislation would not have affected that case, Almond said. But she said the incident made the issue of guns "very personal for me."
"It might just be another tool to be able to keep kids safe," she said of her bill.
Almond also cited the March shooting at Great Mills High School in St. Mary's County. In that case, authorities say, 17-year-old Austin Wyatt Rollins took his father's legally owned pistol to school and killed 16-year-old Jaelynn Willey and wounded 14-year-old Desmond Barnes before killing himself.
"We need more leaders at all levels of government working on this issue," said Jen Pauliukonis, the group's president. "This is something we should be open to discussing and open to tackling."
Mark Pennak, president of the gun-rights group Maryland Shall Issue, said that as a handgun instructor, he values safety. But he raised doubts about whether the bill would be effective.
"I doubt that this will have much effect on anything, except criminalizing more people who are not currently subject to criminal penalties," Pennak said. In the Great Mills High School shooting, he said, it is not clear how Rollins obtained the gun.
Pennak asked whether the county legislation was being "used as a political leverage point."
"Keeping all Baltimore County families and children safe must be the County Council's top priority," Almond said in the email. "Leia's Law is a commonsense solution to help keep firearms out of the hands of children."
In April, Almond called upon Brochin to donate political contributions he has received from gun-related organizations to gun violence prevention. Brochin criticized Almond fo r taking contributions from developers and development attorneys.
Brochin could not be reached for comment.
Olszewski has faced criticism in the race for his past positions on gun legislation, including his vote as a state delegate against the Firearm Safety Act of 2013.
In an op-ed in The Baltimore Sun, Olszewski said he has "evolved" and he now feels his votes on guns were wrong.