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Mitch Edelman: Commissioners stand against common sense

Last month, the Maryland General Assembly passed what has been described as a tough, controversial gun control law whose main provisions are to limit the availability of large-capacity ammunition magazines and military-style assault weapons. To absolutely no one's surprise, lobbying organizations for gun manufacturers swore to overturn the law.

Large capacity ammunition clips are used in nearly two fifths of all cop killings, and in a quarter of all gun crimes. Common sense tells us to stop peddling them. When more than half of all mass murderers use high-velocity semiautomatic weapons with expanded capacity magazines, common sense tells us to stop making them easy to buy. Maryland's law does just that.

The list of banned weapons includes the notorious AR-15 Bushmaster, Uzis, Kalashnikov AK-47s and the Ingram Partisan Avenger. These weapons are not designed for target-shooting. They aren't for self-defense. They aren't for hunting, either. These weapons are suitable only for firing a large number of rounds in a hurry, without regard for who or what gets shot.

People will say that the AR-15 is a semi-automatic weapon, but a Google search produces more than 120,000 hits on "convert AR15 to full automatic." Make no mistake: the guns and magazines banned by this law have no use except mass killing.

Common sense tells us that we need to close loopholes that allow anyone to buy a weapon at gun shows without first having passed a background check. Maryland's law requires thorough background checks on all gun buyers, for all gun transactions.

Common sense tells us that anyone owning a weapon should know how to operate it safely. Maryland's law requires new gun purchasers to take an eight-hour or longer course, taught by a qualified instructor, covering handgun safety, relevant laws and to demonstrate the owner's ability to handle the weapon. In these and other provisions, Maryland put common sense policies for gun safety and public safety into law.

Carroll County's Commissioners stand against common sense and public safety.

They put together a bizarre creation, "the Second Amendment Preservation Resolution," in which they declare the new state law unconstitutional and make Carroll a "Second Amendment sanctuary county." It declares that zero resources of any kind will be allocated to enforce any of the law's provisions not already in effect. It even goes so far as to declare "null and void within Carroll County any and all international treaties, including the UNATT" (United Nations Arms Trade Treaty).

The resolution also provides for the sheriff to create "reserve forces," allowing private citizens to play cop and to be armed like one, too, at the sole discretion of the county sheriff.

On Wednesday night, the commissioners held a hearing to discuss the proposed resolution. More than a hundred people attended the hearing, the vast majority of whom supported it. In their opening remarks, each of the commissioners declared his or her intent to vote in favor of the resolution, so there was no real debate.

The entire process was so much political theater, with the outcome as much in doubt as tomorrow's sunrise. Since the commissioners had made up their minds in advance of this little show, I wonder where or if they actually deliberated over this loopy thing. If they did debate it at all, it was not in public, an act completely consistent with this board's track record of disregarding open government.

In their haste to move this forward, the commissioners displayed exceptional hubris, arrogance and ignorance. They usurp the constitutional power of courts to decide a law's constitutionality. They declare a treaty null and void, in direct conflict with Article II, which empowers only the President to make treaties, with the advice and consent of the Senate.

Perhaps the most ironic statement of all inside this Alice-in-Wonderland resolution is, "we, as elected officials, bound by sworn oath to uphold and defend the Constitution of these States-united ..." do resolve not to uphold the law. Again.

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