It was a long day in Annapolis yesterday. I was one of an estimated 1,300 people who showed up to give testimony on gun legislation. For details, see The Baltimore Sun article.
On the public testimony, I was #162 and I went at nearly 9 pm, they were estimating 16 hours of testimony and it didn't start until 4:30 pm. My quick demographic estimates: 99% white, over 90% Male, & over 95% or those who came to testify opposed the governor's bill. The supporters, including busloads of school children, were outside rallying in the morning.
There were 4 hours of expert testimony, then I heard 4 hours of public testimony with the same handful of messages : civil rights, why I need an assault weapons, statistics on how gun control doesn't decrease violence, I'm gonna move to another state if this passes, you're going to make me a criminal, go after the criminals and the mentally ill, all of these measure prevent straw purchases but no one is ever prosecuted for straw purchases, this won't fix anything, and my personal favorite: the little girl who testified that if the law passed she'd have to move away from her friends, her school, and going to McDonald's. Where were the victims of gun violence? Where were the mental health advocates? They were part of the expert testimony -- I'll talk more about this below--but I was the only one (of those I heard) who was not giving public testimony on the Firearms Act. I left after I testified, but it went on until early the next day --I've heard 3 AM and 6 AM.
It's amazing that there is nothing about substance abuse, that you can go for eight rehabs, and still have your arsenal.
In terms of actual safety issues, I think it might be helpful, though I imagine it's too late, to have a process by which all physicians are "allowed" (as opposed to required) to violate confidentiality and the police are "required" to investigate and confiscate weapons then have a quick legal process that would ensue to return such weapons if they were confiscated in error. This could be used for psychiatric patients, substance abusers, or simply angry, mean people who are making threats or behaving erratically. And because it wouldn't be about just reporting to a database, it might serve as a mechanism to get guns out of the hands of those who have them illegally, something none of this legislation addresses.
If you read through all this, thank you. Eleven hours yesterday and I needed to vent. It was really fascinating and I'm so glad I went.