Prince George’s Co. could make all gun shops and shooting ranges hand these out

The Prince George’s County Council is moving closer to passing a new law that would require all firearms dealers and shooting ranges to display and provide pamphlets focused on firearm safety and mental health.

It mirrors a similar law already in place in Anne Arundel County and Montgomery County. Dealers in Anne Arundel County are currently challenging the legality of the law there.

The Prince George’s County law is in honor of Grant Colefield, a college student who went to a shooting range and used a gun provided there to take his own life, one day before he was supposed to return to school at the University of Maryland-Eastern Shore to begin his senior year.

The county council held a public hearing on the bill this week, and his uncle, Jeffrey Grant, is the only one who spoke, though Colefield’s mother spoke tearfully about the loss of her son when the bill was heard in committee earlier this year.

“We’re not asking for anyone to be impacted financially. We’re asking that everyone, all of us in our community, open our eyes and pay attention to issues that are harming us,” said Grant this week. “We’re not asking for anyone to be harmed financially — to be put in an uncomfortable place. We just would like for everyone to actually have the opportunity to address our issues in our community in a safe and respectful way.”

He argued such pamphlets could save lives in the future, and that it could have prevented his nephew from taking his life too.

“He could have thought about it before he went into a shooting range,” said Grant.

The pamphlets would be produced by the county health department and would be required to be handed out to anyone buying a firearm or ammunition. Dealers and ranges that violate the policy would face a $100 fine.

Right now, there are four licensed firearms retailers operating in the county.

Earlier this month, dealers in Anne Arundel County appealed that county’s 2022 law to the U.S. Supreme Court, arguing a requirement that they hand out similar literature is a violation of the First Amendment.

So far, federal courts have upheld the law, since the literature isn’t trying to discourage anyone from buying a firearm or ammunition.

It’s unclear if the Supreme Court will take this particular case.

The lead sponsor of the legislation in Prince George’s County is District 7 Council member Krystal Oriadha, and she expressed confidence that the law will withstand any legal challenges.

“This can really save lives,” said Oriadha in a text messaged statement earlier this month. “It is sad that just giving people information is a debate.”

A final vote by the county council is expected by mid-June. The bill has more than enough sponsors to pass.

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John Domen

John started working at WTOP in 2016 after having grown up in Maryland listening to the station as a child. While he got his on-air start at small stations in Pennsylvania and Delaware, he's spent most of his career in the D.C. area, having been heard on several local stations before coming to WTOP.

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