With last week’s mass shooting deaths at the Navy Yard still fresh in people’s minds, all three candidates for delegate in Maryland’s District 16 are talking about gun control, despite the fact that Maryland has some of the toughest gun control laws in the country.
Jordon Cooper of North Bethesda said he would outlaw all assault rifles, including ones already purchased, under his legislative plan to combat gun violence that he released last week. He also wants all firearms registered in a statewide database and that this registration be renewed every two years. His plan demands that all firearms used in a crime or in the possession of a felon be cross-listed in a statewide registry.
Finally, under Cooper’s plan, the owners of any guns used in a homicide or robbery would be penalized, even if they were not involved in the crime.
Cooper, of North Bethesda and a member of Congregation B’nai Tzedek in Potomac, is one of three Democrats so far to get on what is expected to be a crowded ballot for delegate in the 16th District, which covers the area surrounding Chevy Chase and Bethesda.
The other two candidates are Hrant Jamgochian, an attorney and executive director of Dialysis Patient Citizens, and Marc Korman, a practicing attorney in D.C.
The primary election, in which three delegates per party will be chosen, is set for June 2014. The general election will be held in November.
On Oct. 1, Maryland’s new strict gun control law will take effect. That law prohibits transporting, possessing, selling, transfering, purchasing or receiving an assault weapon, unless that weapon had already been purchased. It also limits the number of rounds of ammunition that can be purchased, down from the current 20 to 10, and bans certain types of ammunition including so-called cop killer bullets or any that contain explosive or incendiary material.
While Korman praised the legislation, he was quick to refer to the Navy Yard shootings and point out that “this guy bought his gun in Virginia and then walked into D.C.” to use it. Maryland legislators need to be speaking with their counterparts in other states to work on this issue, he said, noting, “the problem doesn’t end at the Maryland borders.”
Korman also noted that gun sales have risen sharply since the law was passed as more and more people choose to purchase their weapons before the tighter restrictions go into effect next month. That is why he would like to require that all existing guns be registered or licensed, explained the Bethesda resident.
Jamgochian, a new father of a 2-month old son, said that he considers gun control a very important issue and praised the new state law. He said one thing he’d like to see added to that law is for Maryland to obtain the technology to prevent anyone but the actual owner from firing a gun. That same technology, he noted, “also allows for law enforcement to shut off” a gun.
Jamgochian, who ran for this position in 2010, believes the state must deal not just with gun control but also with “the root causes” of senseless shootings. If elected, he said he would work to make sure everyone has access to quality health care, a good education and a chance to make a decent living.
While not yet listed as a candidate by the board of elections, Kevin Walling, a former director of development and communications at Equality Maryland, announced his candidacy this summer.
While the candidates talk of curbing gun violence in Maryland, the Jewish Council for Public Affairs is one of several Jewish groups working to stop these killings on a national level.
The death of 12 innocent people at the Navy Yard “calls each of us to take stock and confront our nation’s deep and ongoing problem with gun violence. These acts must shake us out of complacency,” JCPA President Rabbi Steve Gutow said
“Universal background checks and an end to straw purchases, for instance, will keep guns out of the wrong hands. There is no perfect guarantee of safety, but as mass shooting after mass shooting — not to mention the daily murders on the streets and in homes — have shown, there is still much more that must be done,” JCPA chair Larry Gold added.