She says response has been positive.
Maryland's new gun law is not just being challenged in court. A Damascus woman is spearheading a petition drive to get this measure on a referendum ballot in 2014.
Sue Payne says the wording for the referendum question has been approved by the Maryland Attorney General's office and a website went up last week. "This issue will light up the electorate like nothing I've ever seen," she says. "The citizens have the right to referendum in this state, unlike other states that have passed the same type of bill. And we ought to be able to exercise our rights under the Constitution and take it to the people."
A group of Maryland legislators, including Washington County Republican Delegate Neil Parrott, are taking their arguments against the measure to the courts to decide on the gun law's constitutionality. Payne says she's not deterred. "I don't see any reason why you can't do both. I don't know anybody whose going to put a yard sign in their front yard that says 'court case' on this. But I know who will put them in for this issue."
The legislation passed by the 2013 General Assembly would require Marylanders who want to buy a handgun to submit fingerprints to the State Police. It would also ban 45 types of assault weapons.
The Governor is expected to sign it next week.
In order to place the issue on a referendum ballot next year, Payne would need to collect at least 55,000 signatures by the end of June. She was asked if she thinks she can do it. "I'm hopeful; very positive reaction so far," says Payne. "People are just thrilled to do it. They're coming and getting handfuls of petitions, and taking them to different groups around the state."
She also says even if her effort fails, it would still be worth it. "If we don't make it, we don't make it. But we will have tried. But if we do make it, we not only stop this bill from taking affect in October, but we give the citizens of Maryland an additional 18 months to buy their guns and get grandfathered in."
Payne also says even people who don't own guns and don't plan to purchase firearms have signed the petition because they believe this legislation goes too far. "If today's the 2nd Amendment, what is tomorrow going to be? Will we lose our right to assembly? Will we lose our free speech rights," she asks.
If this effort succeeds, Payne says citizens will not only have an opportunity to vote on the gun law, but on the legislators who crafted it and voted in favor of it. "Everybody who pushed this through is up for re-election in 2014," she says.