Gun violence prevention group puts Md. in top tier

Maryland has vaulted into the top tier of states with strong laws to prevent gun violence as a result of legislation pushed by Gov. Martin O'Malley, according to a leading group that advocates for restrictions on access to firearms.

The Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence released a study Monday ranking Maryland fourth in the nation in terms of the strength of its gun laws -- up from seventh last year. The group, along with the Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence, gave Maryland an A grade for its laws, which became more restrictive this year with curbs on the sales of certain assault-style weapons and high-capacity magazines as well as new handgun licensing requirements that include fingerprinting.

O'Malley proposed Maryland's tighter law after the mass slaying at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., a year ago this week. According to the Brady center, Maryland was one of eight states to adopt tougher gun laws in the wake of the shooting.

Vincent DeMarco, president of Marylanders to Prevent Gun Violence, said passage of the new law puts Maryland in the top ranks of gun-restricting states along with California, New York, Massachusetts, New Jersey, Connecticut and Hawaii. He said the new licensing and fingerprinting requirement was the main reason Maryland moved into the top ranks.

"We really hope other states will follow suit," DeMarco said. "We're going to save a lot of lives with this new law."

The National Rifle Association is backing a federal lawsuit brought by individuals and groups opposed to the law, which they regard as an infringement on Second Amendement rights. The law passed the General Assembly in the spring despite massive protests against the legislation by gun rights advocates.

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