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O'Malley gun measures are about running for president, not public safety

As a legal owner of a firearm in Maryland and a registered Democrat who voted for Gov. Martin O'Malley in the last two election cycles, I was initially supportive of the push following the Newtown tragedy for new gun legislation ("O'Malley to push stricter gun limits," Jan. 15). However, as time has passed since that tragedy, I have come to see that Governor O'Malley's push for new gun legislation is an attempt to use the Newtown tragedy as a way to further his own political career and cement his standing with the base of the Democratic Party in preparation for a run for President in 2016.

It has become apparent to me that Mr. O'Malley and his backers in the legislature are using the Newtown tragedy for political purposes instead of an opportunity to pass constructive, reasonable gun and mental health legislation that reduces that number of illegal firearms in the hands of felons and improves mental health services, while preserving and encouraging legal, law-abiding citizens to exercise their constitutional right to bear arms.

The proposal to require liability insurance set forth by Sen. Jamie Raskin or a registration fee as proposed by Del. Jon Cardin are so completely outside the mainstream that I hesitate to mention them here, but I would remind my fellow readers that taxes and fees have historically been used in this country to restrict other constitutional rights, and I view these proposals no differently.

In putting forth such proposals, Mr. O'Malley and the Democrats in the legislature are alienating the very gun owners they need during the national debate on gun legislation that is still yet to occur. As I am sure Mr. O'Malley and state Democrats would admit in private, unless we tackle gun control legislation at a national level, the patchwork laws on a state by state basis will not change the overall dynamic of guns in America.

It may be great for Mr. O'Malley and fellow Democrats to send out e-mails to their base stating that we have the most stringent gun laws in the country, but the reality is that anyone who wants a firearm can drive 50 miles to Virginia and purchase one without a background check. Unless Maryland politicians stop pandering to their political constituencies and realize that universal, common sense gun laws will have a much greater impact, I fear that the Newtown tragedy will not drive the change we are all seeking and will simply continue to empower national organizations that stifle common sense gun legislation.

Mr. O'Malley has failed to state that he believes that law-abiding citizens have the right to bear arms. I suggest that Mr. O'Malley and his fellow Democrats read D.C. v. Heller or McDonald v. Chicago to gain some additional perspective on this topic. Mr. O'Malley and the legislature should clearly state that they believe that gun ownership is a right of all Marylanders and that it is their goal to craft laws that do not discourage or place onerous burdens on law-abiding citizens to exercise those rights and their actions should then echo these sentiments. A clear statement and public actions such as expanding the states' conceal carry requirement from "may issue" to "shall issue" reflecting this commitment will comfort gun owners like myself and allow us to break with the national organizations and publicly support common sense gun laws.

As a gun owner, I am open to responsible and reasonable laws that can help prevent tragedies like the one in Newtown by instituting universal background checks and banning high-capacity assault rifle magazines. However, if Maryland politicians continue to restrict gun rights of law-abiding citizens, they will do so at the peril of national legislation and cause people like myself to continue to send monthly checks to the NRA to stifle gun legislation. Turn us into allies not opposition, Mr. O'Malley.

David H., Baltimore

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