Two Montgomery County lawmakers are being criticized for efforts to weaken a proposed assault weapons ban.
In an editorial published Friday (see “Maryland’s shrinking assault-weapons ban”), The Washington Post criticized delegates Luiz R.S. Simmons (D-Dist. 17) and Kathleen M. Dumais (D-Dist. 15), both of Rockville, for suggesting the ban exempt AR-15s, semiautomatic weapons used by the Aurora, CO, shooter and in the Beltway sniper attacks.
The Post editorial said:
“…the reality is that the number of Marylanders with a legitimate need to own AR-15s is minuscule. By contrast, repeated, tragic and bloody experience in Maryland and elsewhere in the United States makes plain the overwhelming need for a comprehensive ban on assault weapons.”
The editorial is posted at WashingtonPost.com.
Political blog Maryland Juice put the news in its “JuiceBlender” on Tuesday and said that The Post’s recent coverage of the proposed assault weapons ban “indicates that Del. Kathleen Dumais has been swayed by extremely flimsy policy logic.”
The Juice post said the NRA “succeeded in scaring some lawmakers” and listed the office number and emails for Dumais and Simmons, urging readers to contact the “MoCo Delegates who are wavering on the assault weapons ban.”
Dumais responded in a lengthy letter to Maryland Juice on Tuesday accusing The Post and other media of focusing on one aspect of the proposed legislation and offered to tell “the rest of the story.” In exerpt, Dumais said:
“It is easy to jump on a National bandwagon and, no pun intended, take pot shots at legislators doing their jobs in order to advance a particular agenda. But, I really wish someone on the Post Editorial Board had investigated beyond this single, oversimplified issue of an ‘assault weapon ban.’ Or, had even taken the time to understand the rest of the components of the pending legislation.”
The political blog also posted a letter Simmons sent to The Post on Sunday in which he claims the paper’s editorial mischaracterized his stance on assault weapons:
“I have always supported a general ban on assault weapons and have said nothing or done nothing to the contrary,” Simmons states in the letter. “Your editorial writer has evidently confused my position with the public position of my colleague Delagate Kathleen Dumais.”
Both letters are posted at Maryland Juice.
Where this is coming from
In Annapolis, the assault weapons ban passed the Senate but is being bogged down in a House Judiciary Committee, of which Dumais is vice chair and Simmons is a member. Some of the changes being proposed would keep semiautomatic rifles legal in Maryland, according to The Post.
In a story published in The Baltimore Sun on Thursday, Dumais said gun owners use AR-15s for target shooting and hunting, and noted that gun-buyers in Maryland must go through a criminal background check.
"The AR-15 is not as scary as we once thought," Dumais told The Sun.
The local debate comes as The White House’s gun reform package lost a major provision—a ban on assault weapons, The Huffington Post reports.
"I'm not going to try to put something on the floor that won't succeed," Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) told HuffPo. "I think the worst of all worlds would be to bring something to the floor and it dies there."
Opponents stage rally
Such sentiments don’t seem to jibe with a recent poll that found most Marylanders favored stricter state gun laws—from bans on assault-style weapons and high capacity ammunition magazines to fingerprinting anyone who buys a gun, Patch reported earlier this month.
A group planned to rally Tuesday at the State House to advocate for an assault weapons ban and stricter gun laws in Maryland.
“As moms, we will remain focused on the safety of our children rather than be influenced or even intimidated by powerful gun industry lobby groups,” Shannon Watts, founder of the group Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America, said in a press release.
“We will not wait for one more horrific mass shooting of our children for legislators to wake up and finally pass needed laws that we know will make a difference,” Watts said.