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Hogan, guns and the attorneys general

During the recent gubernatorial campaign, The Sun and several thoughtful citizens were perplexed about the discrepancy between the National Rifle Association's notorious A- rating for Larry Hogan and the candidate's repeated promise that he won't overturn Maryland's gun law if elected. In fact, The Sun ran a commentary questioning how vigorously a Governor Hogan might enforce those laws. Now it's possible that the other shoe has dropped.

Reporter Erin Cox's "21 states hope to halt Md. law" (Nov. 22) describes an attempt by 21 state attorneys general to overturn Maryland's (as well as New York's and Connecticut's) stringent gun laws. Led by West Virginia's Patrick Morrisey, the officials have filed amicus briefs supporting challenges to Maryland's statute.

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What business, you may well be asking, is it of attorneys general in states as distant as Idaho or Missouri to meddle in a law that has no possible effect on the selling of firearms in their own states? Unless we buy into the hyperbolic stop-the-camel-before-he gets-his-nose-under-the-tent "logic" promoted by the gun lobby since the early 1990s, which seems to be the sum of Mr. Morrisey's explanations as quoted by Ms. Cox in the story, we have to conclude that they really are meddling in our business. While it's not uncommon for legal officers to file amicus briefs in controversial legal cases, this seems highly scripted, a means of supporting the gun manufacturers, the NRA and the gun lobby. It sure isn't about states' rights!

So how does this bear on Governor-elect Hogan and his promise not to do anything to overturn our law? Well, if he knew this was in the pipeline (and he hasn't admitted that he did although as far as I know the question hasn't been put to him), his promise to do nothing to overturn the law may have been equivocal. If he knew attorneys general were going to carry the water for the gun interests and support a challenge our law, he could promise not to overturn a statute he knew someone else, not a Marylander, would challenge. So Mr. Hogan has something to explain to all of us. What did he know, when did he know it and how did that affect his promise not to overturn the gun law?

Fortunately, the defense of our law is in capable hands because Maryland's new attorney general, an able lawyer who supported the law while it was making its way through the General Assembly, will be responsible for defending it in court. But how much cooperation will Attorney General Brian Frosh get from the governor and his cabinet? And is our new governor off to a disingenuous start with his state?

David Dougherty, Timonium

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