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Common sense gun policy involves more than refusing NRA backing

Larry Hogan, Governor of Maryland, talks about the police response to the shooting at the Capital Gazette. (Jerry Jackson, Baltimore Sun video)

Four years ago, I organized a group of women (many toting their children) to go to Larry Hogan’s campaign office every Tuesday afternoon for a month before the election. We wanted to know why the National Rifle Association gave the Republican gubernatorial candidate an A- rating and asked him to release his completed NRA questionnaire. Each time, Mr. Hogan’s staff gave us doughnuts but no answers. We are still waiting.

We do know The Washington Post reported at the time Mr. Hogan assured gun rights proponents that he would undermine Maryland’s landmark 2013 Firearm Safety Act. That is exactly what he has done as governor.

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In Governor Hogan’s most recent opinion piece, he touts himself as a champion of gun violence prevention issues (“Common-sense solutions can come from senseless violence,” July 21). While he signed multiple gun safety bills into law this last legislative session, he has spent the majority of his term refusing to even to discuss the issue and has worked behind the scenes to undermine the gun laws we already have. The organization I co-lead, Marylanders to Prevent Gun Violence, monitors the Handgun Permit Review Board, a board that hears appeals to the Maryland State Police decisions to deny an individual a concealed carry permit. Governor Hogan states in his commentary that he does not want “to second guess law-enforcement who are already overburdened in their work.” However, he does this every two weeks when the five individuals whom he alone appointed to the board consistently overturn the decisions state police officers have made to deny individuals concealed carry permits.

Maryland law stipulates certain safety standards in issuing such permits and members of this board consistently disregard these requirements and the decision of the state police. Furthermore, if Governor Hogan is so concerned about the large number of illegal guns in Baltimore City (gun illegally trafficked from states with far weaker laws), he needs to answer our requests for him to join the States for Gun Safety Coalition, a bipartisan regional gun violence research consortium. He has refused to join the coalition since its inception earlier this year. We need a governor willing to work with other state leaders to prioritize stopping guns being diverted to the underground market in our state.

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Governor Hogan is right about one thing, the federal government has failed us and we need strong leaders at the state level who are willing to work across party lines to make real change. What we don’t need are more politicians who ignore the daily toll of deaths in Baltimore and then make vague and empty promises in the aftermath of high profile shootings in the run up to a gubernatorial election. Governor Hogan touts himself as a champion of “common sense gun legislation.” We plan to hold him accountable for that statement.

Elizabeth Banach, Baltimore

The writer is executive director of Marylanders to Prevent Gun Violence.

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