Ben Jealous, the Democratic candidate for Maryland governor, on Monday released his answers to the 2018 National Rifle Association questionnaire and called on Republican Gov. Larry Hogan to do the same.
"The people of Maryland deserve transparency and accountability from their elected officials," Jealous said in a statement. "When an organization like the NRA has repeatedly called for policies that go against Maryland values, we all deserve to know where our elected officials stand in public and in private.”
Jealous has repeatedly criticized Hogan for never releasing his answers to the NRA in a four-year-old questionnaire. During the 2014 campaign, Hogan earned an A- rating from the organization.
In a meeting with students from Great Mills High School last week, Hogan agreed to reject any money or support from the NRA.
On Jealous’ 2018 NRA questionnaire, the former NAACP president wrote he agrees that the Second Amendment guarantees all law-abiding Americans a right to own firearms. But he said he supports additional restrictions on gun ownership in Maryland, including expanding licensing requirements to apply to all guns, similar to current restrictions on handguns.
He said he would support legislation to make it illegal for an adult to leave a firearm where a person younger than 18 can get access to it, citing the shooting at Great Mills in Southern Maryland this year.
“The death of Jaelynn Willey shows us that it is still too easy for children to get access to the firearms of their parents,” Jealous wrote. “We should be doing all we can to make sure no minor can get their hands on a gun.”
Willey was killed when a 17-year-old student walked into the school with his father’s pistol just minutes before the first bell on March 20 and shot her in the head, according to the St. Mary’s County sheriff’s office.
Last week, Jealous joined Willey’s Great Mills High School classmates and other advocates at a rally in Annapolis led by the organization Students for a Safer Maryland.
The students also met face-to-face with both Hogan and Jealous.
Hogan has signed into law several gun control bills, including “red flag” legislation meant to empower law enforcement or relatives to petition a judge to remove firearms from a person deemed dangerous. A spokeswoman for the governor said he has signed every gun control bill that advanced to his desk.
The governor also wrote an opinion piece in the Capital Gazette and Baltimore Sun on Saturday saying he supports a national background check system in light of the fatal shooting at the Capital Gazette.
“The governor’s record speaks for itself,” Hogan campaign spokesman Doug Mayer said. “Four years ago, he made a promise not rollback Maryland’s gun laws and he has not only kept the promise but supported and implemented common sense proposals to curb gun crime and violence across our state. He will keep his promise and continue pursuing these kinds of actions throughout his second term.”
Of the NRA, Mayer said Hogan “isn’t interested in their endorsement.”
Jealous met with the students at a Starbucks Saturday prior to the rally and told them he would fight the NRA at every turn. The Democratic nominee also emphasized the importance of providing robust mental health services in Maryland.