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Carroll County State's attorney candidates weigh in on state of Second Amendment, prosecutor's role in protecting rights

In 2013, Gov. Martin O'Malley signed the Maryland Firearm Safety Act, banning the sale of 45 types of weapons, requiring fingerprinting for gun ownership, reducing the number of bullets magazines can legal hold and prohibiting the mentally ill from owning guns.

The Carroll County Board of Commissioners drafted a Second Amendment Preservation Resolution which declared Carroll as a Second Amendment Sanctuary County and opposed the firearm safety act last May.

The Maryland State Police Licensing Division is tasked with issuing permits, licenses and certifications for firearms.

As the prosecutor for Carroll County, the state's attorney has discretion when pursuing gun-related crimes, including the use of a handgun in the commission of a felony or crime of violence, which carries a mandatory five-year minimum sentence.

In the approaching June 24 primary election, two Republican candidates will seek election as the Carroll County State's Attorney. The candidates are Jerry Barnes, the incumbent state's attorney, and Brian DeLeonardo.

We asked the candidates: State's Attorney Barnes has remarked on the importance of only prosecuting "true criminals" for gun crimes and protecting the Second Amendment rights of "law-abiding firearms owners." Do you agree with this policy? Why?

Barnes: We are Maryland's safest county for seven years in a row. Under my leadership, gun laws will never be used to harass our law-abiding citizens who choose to exercise their rights under the Second Amendment. At the same time, convicted criminals who unlawfully possess firearms and those who use guns to commit crimes will feel the full weight of the State's Attorney's Office come down on them. This is one of the biggest reasons that I personally review every firearms case that is referred to my office, and after such review, I provide specific instructions on how each case is to be handled to the prosecuting attorney assigned to the case. If properly applied, we have enough gun legislation on our books to make sure that our law-abiding citizens remain safe, and gun criminals know not to bring their nonsense across the border into Carroll County.

DeLeonardo: I wholeheartedly agree that state's attorney should focus on prosecuting those committing drug and violent crime with guns, and not law-abiding citizens. I am a National Rifle Association member, and have grown up participating in competition shooting events. I continue to serve as a consultant to police and prosecutors throughout the state on the investigation and prosecution of those committing gun crimes, and even lecture on gun laws to gun clubs. I believe that the recent gun legislation infringes on our Second Amendment rights, and makes us less safe by devoting limited police resources on regulating law-abiding citizens. As state's attorney, I will pursue the mandatory no-parole offenses on those criminals using guns in crime, and not continually plea-bargain those charges away. I will also continue to support legislative efforts to make Maryland a "shall issue" state so that law-abiding citizens can carry firearms.

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