‘Gun Bill Day’ delivers over 30 bills for consideration to Md. House

On "Gun Bill Day" in Annapolis, Maryland, the Maryland House Judiciary Committee heard testimony on dozens of firearm-related bills on Tuesday, March 6, 2018. (WTOP/Megan Cloherty)

ANNAPOLIS, Md. — Delegates in the Maryland House Judiciary Committee had dozens of bills in front of them Tuesday with a connection to handguns and public safety.

Those bills cover topics such as access to antique and replica guns, concealing and carrying firearms into churches, arming teachers, and expediting firearms permits for victims of domestic violence.

“The world is in chaos. Look at what is happening to schools. You can’t even go anywhere anymore. You’re afraid to go to school; you’re afraid to go to church. Something must be done,” said Cassandra Atkens, whose 24-year-old daughter was shot to death.

Atkens’ daughter, Shade Marie Adebayo, was gunned down by her ex-boyfriend in a Germantown, Maryland, parking lot outside Target, where she met him to talk.

Her family said, at the time, the two had dated for six months, and he purchased a replica black powder handgun that he used to kill her. Prosecutors have since said her killer was a prohibited felon and did not have access to purchase a firearm, but ordered the replica and had it sent to his home.

“Please close the loopholes that allow the purchasing of replica antique guns that hurt any child,” Atkens pleaded with state lawmakers through the press.

Friends of the daughter, who was a University of Maryland graduate, were there to support her memory by testifying in front of the committee. And like Adebayo’s mother, they wore purple T-shirts with a photo of her on them.

“If antique handguns and the replica her killer had had been classified under the same restraints as other handguns and rifles, he would have never gotten a hold of that, and she would be here today,” said longtime friend Stephanie Evans.

Domestic violence victim advocate, registered nurse and re-enactment enthusiast Elizabeth Baran opposed putting limits on who can purchase black powder firearms. She saw Adebayo’s killing as an anomaly.

“I feel that it’s one more thing that I have to do to enjoy my hobby, that I’ve enjoyed for my entire life as a young teenager, because of one highly politicized event,” Baran said ahead of the hearing.

“A criminal is a criminal; that’s what they do. Why punish all of these thousands of law-abiding citizens who enjoy black powder guns as hobbies because of this?” she added.

Baran also testified in support of another bill that would put victims of domestic violence at the front of the queue when it comes to issuing handgun permits. It also increases that permit’s life from three to five years.

Those were two of many bills delegates heard testimony on regarding firearms and public safety.

Among the other bills, state Del. Kathy Szeliga is sponsoring one that would permit the wearing and carrying of a concealed handgun on church-owned property by any “law-abiding” member of the congregation, provided they have permission from the church and are legally allowed to possess a firearm in the state.

Another bill would ban the possession of a detachable magazine capable of holding more than 10 rounds of ammunition. However, opponents point out that without any grandfather clause, if passed, the bill could potentially subject gun owners to prison time or fines for already owning weapons with that capacity.

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