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Brown: I will enforce gun safety law [Commentary]

Editor's note: The Sun also plans to run an op-ed by Republican gubernatorial candidate Larry Hogan in the coming weeks. 

This week, we marked the one-year anniversary of a lifesaving law taking effect, the Firearm Safety Act. But, Marylanders still stand at a crossroads between two very different futures for our state.

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In 2013, in response to the tragic Newtown school shooting and the all too common acts of gun violence on our own streets, we took real action to protect our communities by passing some of the toughest gun safety laws in the nation.

The Firearm Safety Act banned the sale of military style assault rifles and high-capacity magazines, which have been used in dozens of mass shootings across our nation. And, because handguns are the most commonly used weapons in street violence, we required enhanced, fingerprint-based background checks on their sale to prevent criminals from getting these deadly weapons.

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This Election Day, there is a clear choice between me and Republican Larry Hogan when it comes to preventing gun violence.

I was proud to be a part of the diverse coalition of police officers, teachers, gun violence prevention advocates, faith leaders and Maryland families who worked to pass the Firearm Safety Act. However, Larry Hogan and the NRA opposed banning assault rifles, opposed banning high-capacity magazines and opposed the law's enhanced background checks for handgun purchases. Now Mr. Hogan is trying to hide his extreme Republican agenda by claiming that it's unfair to point out his record.

As the Baltimore Sun noted in Tuesday's editorial, our next governor will play an active role in shaping how this law is executed in the future. It's up to Maryland voters to decide whether we want to fully fund and vigorously enforce efforts to take illegal guns off of our streets, or whether we want to take our state in a dangerous direction by defunding the Maryland State Police's budget and gutting enforcement efforts.

I want to be very clear: As governor, not only will I fully fund all provisions of the Firearm Safety Act, I will continue to monitor its progress and look for ways to strengthen and improve this law. This means ensuring that the Maryland State Police have the resources and funding to go after gun dealers who illegally provide deadly weapons to criminals. I will also work to ensure that our fingerprint-based background checks on private gun sales are fully enforced to prevent straw purchases that illegally put guns in the hands of criminals.

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The next governor will also have a real impact on how Maryland handles "wear and carry" regulations. In our state, the superintendent of the Maryland State Police has the legal authority to interpret the definition of a "good and substantial" reason to wear and carry a firearm. This means that if we elect a pro-gun conservative like Larry Hogan as our next governor, he could appoint someone who would undermine our gun regulations and make it easier to bring handguns into malls, restaurants and movie theaters.

As governor, I am committed to appointing a superintendent of the Maryland State Police who will maintain our current regulations to prevent more guns from getting onto our streets.

Marylanders have a clear choice in this election.

And as we go forward, I will continue to work with our law enforcement agencies and advocates in the community to explore new opportunities to drive down gun violence rates even further.

Larry Hogan and the far-right Republicans opposed common-sense gun safety measures and, for months now, Mr. Hogan has worked diligently to avoid giving voters a clear explanation of where he is on this and many other issues. Maryland families deserve a leader who will do everything in his power to protect our children and make our streets safe from gun violence, and our next governor could be tasked with defending the law against current and future challenges in court.

The bottom line is how can Marylanders trust Larry Hogan to wholeheartedly enforce and defend a law he does not support?

Anthony G. Brown is lieutenant governor of Maryland and the Democratic nominee for governor; his email is lt.governor@maryland.gov.

To respond to this commentary, send an email to talkback@baltimoresun.com. Please include your name and contact information.

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