Readers Respond

Md. gun restrictions punish law-abiding citizens

The Maryland House passed the Firearm Safety Act of 2013 by a vote of 78 to 61 ("House passes gun control," April 4). The bill bans the sale or transfer of semiautomatic rifles and limits magazine capacity. Once signed by the governor, the law goes into effect on October 1.

There are only seven states in America that have any restrictions on magazine capacity. Gun owners are free to purchase 100-round magazines in any of the other 43 states that respect gun rights. Those opposed to gun ownership know that gun owners will become politically active if they call for total bans on all firearms. So gun opponents use "assault" weapon bans and magazine capacity limitations as incremental steps toward the goal of complete disarmament.


While citizens of most states are free to choose magazines of any size, Maryland first limited their capacity to 20 rounds, then to 10, and who knows what's next? They may call for a limit of five rounds next, or they may ban gun ownership altogether.

The federal assault weapons ban that was in effect from 1994 to 2004 was completely ineffectual. A 2004 study of the ban conducted by the University of Pennsylvania concluded that "we cannot clearly credit the ban with any of the nation's recent drop in gun violence. ... There has been no discernible reduction in the lethality and injuriousness of gun violence."


If the state is looking for murder weapons to ban, there are better candidates than rifles. Rifles kill relatively few people in America compared to blunt objects and the human body. The FBI's 2011 expanded homicide data table shows that the number of people killed with any type of rifle that year (323) was far less than those killed with objects like hammers (496) or by the killer's own hands or fists (736).

The unnecessary restrictions on rifles and ammunition magazines are making all Marylanders less free. A more accurate title for the law would be the "Sandy Hook Overreaction Act," because the tragic mass-shooting in Newtown, Conn., on Dec. 14 is the most important single event fueling the climate of anti-gun hysteria.

Maryland lawmakers are begging for our freedoms to be taken so they can say they reacted to the crisis. But no one in Maryland — neither law-abiding citizen nor criminal — was responsible for the Newtown shooting. Yet we must lose our rights because of the politicians' desire for feel-good legislation, even if it achieves nothing except to punish us all for a crime we had nothing to do with.

If the law only punished violent criminals, I could understand its purpose. But it restricts the gun rights of all law-abiding Marylanders. Our gun laws were already among the nation's most restrictive, and now they have just gotten worse.

Charles Hollman, Silver Spring