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Democrat John Olszewski, Jr. announces his intent to run for the open Baltimore County Executive seat. (Karl Merton Ferron / Baltimore Sun)

Recently, gun violence has come increasingly into focus — and rightfully so. As a former teacher of high school students, I am proud of how our young people — from Parkland High School and across the country — have become engaged in this important issue. I am proud because it's exactly what I taught my own high school students to do: take action on issues that they care about.

In light of a recent commentary, "Could the Baltimore County executive race come down to NRA support?" (April 5), it is important to me that my position on guns is clear: we need common sense gun legislation and we need it now. This includes banning assault weapons and bump stocks and enacting comprehensive background checks. It means we enact "no fly-no buy" and "red flag" laws. It means that we oppose efforts to arm teachers, and we invest significantly in the resources that keep our schools safe.

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In criticizing some of my prior votes, the writer omits important facts. Most importantly, it leaves out the fact that I've admitted my prior votes on gun legislation — votes that were taken five and 10 years ago, respectively — were wrong. Since taking those votes and since leaving the legislature, I've had time to reflect. In doing so, my position has evolved.

Good leaders admit fault and keep an open mind. The only way we'll make progress on this and other issues is to welcome everyone to the conversation, especially those who may have had different positions in the past. In fact, I hope that my own willingness to reflect, evolve and change on this issue encourages others to do so as well.

The oped also falsely implies that I have taken contributions from the National Rifle Association while the truth is I have never taken a cent from them. It fails to mention that Sen. Jim Brochin is the only Democrat in the county executive race to have accepted money from the NRA — thousands of dollars and more than almost any other elected official or candidate in the state of Maryland.

Residents deserve a leader committed to the future and who can admit when they get something wrong. They also deserve a leader committed to bold progressive action. In both cases, that's the kind of county executive I will always strive to be.

John "Johnny O" Olszewski Jr., Dundalk

The writer is a Democratic candidate for Baltimore County Executive.

Send letters to the editor to talkback@baltimoresun.com. Please include your name and contact information.

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