Since the 2012 massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School reinvigorated the debate around gun ownership, the stances on gun issues of Maryland’s congressional representatives — and the funding they receive from advocates of stricter gun laws or more liberal ones — have fallen along familiar party lines.
After a gunman killed 17 people at a high school in Parkland, Fla., the question of whether Congress should impose new national gun laws has resurfaced, driven in large part by the teenage survivors calling for restrictions.
As the debate gets revved back up, here’s a look at the track records of Maryland’s two senators and eight representatives.
Rep. Andy Harris, the state’s sole Republican in Congress, has received $20,450 in campaign funding from gun rights supporters — such as the National Rifle Association — since 2014, according to nonprofit watchdog group the Center for Responsive Politics.
Meanwhile, when he was running for Senate in 2016, Chris Van Hollen was the top recipient of campaign contributions from gun control groups, according to data complied by the group. He got $104,095.
With survivors of the Feb. 14 mass shooting in Parkland, Fla. — which killed 17 — and other advocates calling for Congress to take action to prevent future school shootings, gun laws like Maryland’s are being debated on a national scale.
The group doesn’t list contributions to all candidates — there were two open House of Representatives seats in Maryland in 2016 — but doesn’t show any Maryland candidate that year as being among the top 20 recipients of money from groups advocating on gun issues.
That fits the national pattern. Gun rights groups threw 97 percent or more of their financial support behind Republicans in the 2014 and 2016 elections. Gun control groups, who have historically spent far less, gave 98 percent of their money to Democrats in 2016.
But the Center for Responsive Politics does not rank gun groups on either side as particularly large campaign donors compared to other industries.
Since 2012, Congress has not taken definitive action on gun issues, but there have been several votes.
Maryland Policy & Politics Newsletter
Keep up to date with Maryland politics, elections and important decisions made by federal, state and local government officials.
And while he was still in the House, Van Hollen introduced a handgun licensing bill that would have helped states set up systems for gun buyers to get advance government authorization to do so. It was similar to a measure that passed in Maryland in 2013.
Van Hollen said he’s supported new restrictions on guns since he was a member of the Maryland General Assembly. He said Congress now ought to impose a ban on assault weapons like the ones used in Parkland and other mass shootings and to close gaps in the background check system.
“My view is we need to move forward on a series of common sense gun safety measures,” he said.