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Maryland gun law opponents shift focus

WASHINGTON – Gun rights advocates remain resolute to fight against Maryland’s tough new gun control package.

The law, known as the Firearm Safety Act of 2013, is one of the country’s strictest measures.

Among other things, it bans more than 45 different kinds of weapons, forces gun buyers to undergo a background check, puts a 10-bullet limit on magazines, and gives the state more power to prevent people deemed mentally ill from obtaining firearms.

Initially, opponents’ predominant focus seemed to be on a referendum, handing the issue to the voters.

However, that approach is changing.

“We are talking about something that is affirmed as a fundamental civil right,” says Patrick Shomo, president of the advocacy group Maryland Shall Issue.

“We wouldn’t say that after legislative action, we’re going to go ahead and put up a particular religion to a referendum.”

“We’re nervous from a philosophical standpoint just from the idea of going ahead and asking your neighbors to go ahead and affirm something that you own, which is your rights.”

Shomo says it wouldn’t be difficult to gather requisite signatures to trigger such a referendum, but groups fighting against Maryland’s law are leaning toward a battle in the courts.

“Our groups, generally speaking, are more interested in going head-on with the governor,” he says.

Governor Martin O’Malley calls the Firearm Safety Act of 2013 a “comprehensive, common-sense approach to licensing and gun safety.”

Shomo predicts several lawsuits will be filed against the measure later this year.

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