But it did have one other effect that is a cause for legitimate concern. Typically, when a law is petitioned to referendum, its effect is put on hold until it can be voted on. In the case of the Dream Act, that meant a delay of a year and a half. Because of the election calendar, the same would be true if Republicans petitioned to referendum any gun control measures the General Assembly adopts this year. There is some injustice in the notion that a dedicated but small band of voters can put on hold a law passed by the democratically elected representatives of the people. Given the petitioners' stinging defeats at the ballot box last year, it's unclear how many people will want to put in the effort necessary to bring laws to the ballot — and even with the advent of mdpetitions.com, the process still requires tremendous legwork. But a reform that allows laws to go into effect during the petition process — except in cases like the gay marriage law, in which legislators explicitly stayed its effect until after the following election — would be sensible.