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Carroll residents attend meeting to oppose gun bill

When the Carroll County Senate Delegation to the Maryland General Assembly offers amendments to weaken Gov. Martin O'Malley's proposed gun control legislation today, they will be carrying with them the comments of Carroll residents.

The senate delegation held a public hearing Tuesday to allow Carroll residents the opportunity to testify against the Firearm Safety Act of 2013. All three of Carroll County's Senators oppose the gun bill. Sen. Joseph Getty, R-District 5, said the senators will use the comments made during the public hearing to argue against the bill on the Senate floor today in Annapolis.

A meeting room at the Best Western in Westminster was used for Tuesday night's public hearing. There wasn't an open seat in the room 20 minutes prior to the start of the hearing. Those that couldn't make it into the meeting room were forced to stand outside in the cold until their name was called to offer their testimony. More than 75 people signed up to speak on the proposed gun legislation, which calls for a ban on the sale of "military-style assault weapons" and high-capacity bullet magazines.

The crowd erupted with applause and cheers when someone made a statement against the bill or in support of Second Amendment rights. Speaker after speaker slammed the gun bill for trying to take people's rights away. Many of the people that spoke said they felt that the proposed gun bill was the first step on a slippery slope that would eventually lead to even tighter restrictions on gun owners in the future.

"It is not a gun bill, it's a people control bill," said one speaker from Carroll.

The first thing that has to happen for America to become Soviet Russia or Nazi Germany, is to take guns away from law-abiding citizens, said Bob Kurland, of Westminster. Kurland warned people not to take their liberties for granted because it is easy to see that politicians are trying to take them away.

"I'm not here to beg for my rights, I'm here to demand my rights," Kurland said.

William Cherneski, of Hampstead, told a story about an attempted home intrusion at his house in 2012. A man in dark clothing was pounding on the door when only his wife was at home. She called the police, but the 911 dispatcher said that no one was available to assist her, Cherneski said.

He said he was glad that his wife was able to grab her firearm and be ready to protect herself if the person entered the house. Cherneski said it's important that people be allowed to own firearms and defend themselves.

While he came with pages of notes to use during his testimony, Tim Legg, of Westminster, offered to give up his time for someone that supported the proposed gun bill to speak. No one stepped forward so Legg began his testimony echoing the concerns of many of the speakers before him.

"If the governor and his minions are successful at this, they'll be back tomorrow for more restrictions until gun ownership in Maryland is only a memory," Legg said. "We can't afford to let that happen."

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