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Carroll County Times
Carroll County Times Opinion

Andrea Chamblee: Maryland must require safe storage of firearms and a ban on ‘ghost guns’ | COMMENTARY

Today in Maryland and in an increasing number of states, you can’t swing a dead cat without hitting a craft beer joint. Although, hopefully, a delicious craft beer will take your mind off any ideas you might have about killing and swinging a cat. But even with many options of IPAs, Hefeweizens, porters and lagers, as well as vodka flavors and hard seltzers that didn’t exist a few years ago, drunken driving rates are lower than ever.

Mothers Against Drunk Driving, or MADD, was founded by Candace Lightener in 1980, after her 13-year-old daughter, Cari, was killed by a drunken driver. This lone citizen created an international movement that changed minds about careless drinking. This movement changed laws about blood-alcohol levels for drinkers, and it spearheaded a sea change in society’s willingness to embrace the concept of the designated driver. We also welcomed taxis, and now ride shares, to keep ourselves, our passengers, and the people around us, safe. It’s a way to “Back the Blue,” to make it less likely police will arrive on the scene of an accident where drivers and passengers, adults and children, will never make it home because of a preventable act.

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This week, I joined another group of mothers and others from Moms Demand Action in Annapolis to lobby for safety and prevention of death and injury. Today, it is the flood of guns, often legal but unsecured and unregistered, that are killing us, our children, and our veterans. We demand safe storage and a prohibition on “ghost guns.”

There is a scourge of ghost guns, the build-it-yourself firearms finished with parts available on eBay. Police agree they are their most urgent problem. Three years after YouTube banned ghost gun tutorials, you still can find dozens of videos, complete with directions for building weapons. Ghost guns were used in the recent school shooting at Magruder High School in Montgomery County. Days later, a man was arrested trying to sell a ghost gun at Gaithersburg High. In August a 14-year-old used a ghost gun in a playground shooting. While school attendance was down in 2021, school shootings continued to break records. Some Maryland police jurisdictions report that seizures of ghost guns in all areas jumped fivefold from 2019 to 2021.

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Regardless of the type of weapon, whether a ghost gun or a conventional one, gun owners must embrace the responsibility of safe storage just as they embrace the idea of sober driving. No matter how many times children are told to leave guns alone, it only takes a curious toddler or a jealous teen to ignore that advice and act impulsively, filling lives with anguish and misery forever. To accept this responsibility, and embrace it, means another sea change; it means joining those who welcome the opportunity to lock up all firearms. No one wants the nightmare of metal and glass shards, skin and bone, blood and the smell of death, in their school, their home, or their streets. During this legislative session, demand that your representatives support safe storage and prohibit ghost guns.

Andrea Chamblee is the widow of Capital Gazette reporter John McNamara, who was murdered on June 28, 2018, in a shooting that took the lives of five staff members. She is a co-author with him and David Elfin of “The Capital of Basketball.” She writes from the pastoral splendor that is the Howard, Carroll County line. Email her at achamblee@yahoo.com.


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