ANNAPOLIS, Md. (AP) — Maryland Democrats announced a pair of measures Thursday that they say will help protect residents from gun violence, but Gov. Larry Hogan said “neither one of them is very serious” and pushed his own crime-fighting proposals.
One of the measures would ban bump stocks, devices that can increase a semi-automatic rifle’s firing rate to nearly fully automatic. Bump stocks were used in the mass shooting in Las Vegas last year that killed 58 people and wounded more than 800.
Del. David Moon, a Montgomery County Democrat sponsoring the bill, described it as a way of closing a loophole in the state’s sweeping gun-control law approved several years ago that banned 45 assault weapons.
“I’m glad to say we have a majority of the Maryland House of Delegates sponsoring this legislation, so I have high hopes for its passage,” Moon said at a news conference with other Democrats.
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Another bill would repeal the state’s Handgun Permit Review Board and turn its functions over to administrative law judges. The five-member board is designed to review Maryland State Police decisions on wear and carry permits. Board members are appointed by the governor, but critics say the decisions shouldn’t be left to politically appointed board members.
“I’ve been distressed by the number of people — the part-time political people — who have been put on this board who don’t have the same level of standards and legal expertise that an administrative law judge would have,” said Sen. Richard Madaleno, a Montgomery County Democrat who is sponsoring the bill.
Doug Mayer, a spokesman for Hogan noted that the board members are confirmed by the Senate.
Hogan, a Republican, said around the time of the Las Vegas shooting that he would be willing to take a look at a bill eliminating bump stocks, but he questioned why the legislature would want to repeal the board.
“I don’t think anyone in the history of our state has ever been killed with a bump stock,” Hogan said. “I’m not sure the people that either have or don’t have their handguns approved by the Handgun Permit Review Board are the ones that are responsible for most of the killing in our state.”
Instead, the governor took the opportunity to push crime-fighting bills he is sponsoring this session. They include tougher mandatory minimum sentences for violent criminals who use guns to commit crimes. He’s also backing a truth-in-sentencing bill that would require repeat violent criminals to serve their full sentences without the possibility of suspension, parole or probation.
“I mean, look, Maryland’s got the toughest gun laws in the country,” Hogan said. “People are still being murdered in our streets every day, so we can talk about new additional things that they want to take a look at, but neither one of them is very serious.”