Here we are, again… another school shooting. In Carroll County, 3 of our schools have faced threats of violence in the last week alone. Are we going to wait until we have a tragedy in our community before we take action? We can’t. This is a time for action. Lawmakers are currently proposing a variety bills to address gun violence. Some, like Del. Moon’s ban on bump stocks, are a great start. Others, like Del. Rose and Del. Shoemaker’s arming of teachers, are terrible ideas that even law enforcement adamantly oppose.
Let’s agree on a few things: first, we need to take care of our fellow citizens that are ill- both physically and mentally, and we are failing miserably at that; second, that people suffering from mental illness are not inherently dangerous and are actually more likely to be the victims of violence than the perpetrators; and third, that those who may be a danger to themselves or others should not own guns, and fourth, kids shouldn’t have guns (with the exception of under adult supervision). Everyone still with me?
If I were a delegate, representing District 5, I would put forth 4 pieces of legislation. The goal being to reduce gun violence overall, including in schools. It would include the following:
- We enact Gun Violence Protective Order legislation, also known as “Red Flag Laws”. This allows an immediate family member or law enforcement to petition the court when someone is a danger to themselves or others. If the court agrees, the person at issue must surrender their firearms, and is prevented from purchasing them during the term of the order (typically a year, with the possibility to renew).
- We require guns be kept in a safe. Although Maryland ‘technically’ has a law requiring the locking up of weapons so they are inaccessible to children, there is almost no consequence. The law creates no civil or criminal liability if the gun is found and subsequently used. We need to change this law to create greater accountability. If a kid gains access to an unlocked gun and shoots themselves or someone else- the gun owner should face liability. This one will get push back, I get it. How is someone supposed to protect their home if their gun is locked in a safe? Fair enough. But if a gun owner wants to take the risk of leaving their gun unlocked- they are on the hook for the consequences too.
- We enact Juvenile mental health red flag laws. Parents who are struggling with a child in need of emergency mental health services, cannot get them court ordered, and gain access to programs coordinated through the courts unless the child is charged with a crime. I envision a law that would allow immediate family or law enforcement to petition the juvenile court for a mental health evaluation of a child, and if warranted, mental health treatment- without the child being charged with a crime.
- We conduct background checks on all guns. Including rifles. A rifle can be used for violence just as easily as a handgun. There is no reason to background check one and not the other.