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Letter: Candidate: Meet me halfway on gun control

Here we are again… another school shooting.

Let's agree on a few things: We need to take care of our fellow citizens that are ill — both physically and mentally, and we are failing miserably at that. People suffering from mental illness are not inherently dangerous and are actually more likely to be the victims of violence than the perpetrators. Those who may be a danger to themselves or others should not own guns. Still with me? Great.

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I have a few ideas on how to address these particular issues:

1. We enact gun violence protective order legislation, known as "red flag laws." This allows an immediate family member or law enforcement to petition the court when someone is a danger to themselves or others. If the court agrees, the person at issue must surrender their firearms and is prevented from purchasing them during the term of the order (typically a year, with the possibility to renew).

2. We require people to lock up their guns. Let's change our current law to create civil and criminal liability of a gun owner who fails to lock up their gun if that gun is then accessed by a child who shoots themselves or someone else. I expect this will get push back. How is someone supposed to protect their home if their gun is locked in a safe? Fair enough. But why should my kid shoulder the risk? If a gun owner wants to take the risk of leaving their gun unlocked — they are on the hook for the consequences too.

3. We enact juvenile mental health red flag laws. Did you read that article after Sandy Hook titled "I am Adam Lanza 's Mother?" It was written by a mom who had a violent and mentally ill son. She repeatedly asked for help. She was told nothing could be done until her son was charged with a crime. I envision a law that would allow immediate family or law enforcement to petition the juvenile court for a mental health evaluation of a child, and if warranted, mental health treatment — without the child being charged with a crime.

We are so polarized as a country right now. I wish both parties understood that yelling louder won't make the other party agree. I've tried to come up with solutions that meet gun advocates half way. Because it is about mental health. But it is also about gun safety. Am I crazy to hope for bipartisan support? Reach me at emilypshank@gmail.com.

Emily Shank

Eldersburg

The writer is a Democrat seeking office in the Maryland House of Delegates representing District 5.

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