One Frederick Co. resident who took part says it won't stop gun crimes.
Large numbers of gun rights advocates came to Annapolis on Wednesday to rally against a ban on assault weapons. They held their event outside of the State House complex office building, and signed up to testify before the Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee.
One who came was Ben Kelkye with the Frederick County Sportsmen's Council, which represents hunters and anglers. "These laws that they put in, these guns they want to take out of the market, it has nothing to do with stopping the criminal," Kelkye says.
The legislation, supported by Governor Martin O'Malley, would ban the sale of assault weapons, and require gun purchasers to undergo digital fingerprinting. The bill would also enhance school security and expand the number of mental health problems that could prevent residents from owning guns.
This bill is in response to the shootings in Newtown, Connecticut in December, 2012, where 20 elementary school students were gunned down.
Supporters say this legislation, which would also limit size of gun magazines, will help prevent a massacre such as this from happening again. Kelkye does not agree. "The criminal gets the gun that he wants, uses the ammunition that he wants. And he's not going to pick up a magazine, and say 'oops! this is 30. I'm not allowed to kill people with this. I'm allowed to kill people with ten.' That's the most ridiculous thing I've ever heard," he says.
Kelkye says the best way to prevent gun violence is the strict enforcement of the laws covering crimes committed with firearms, and stiff sentences for violators. "We do have very hard and good laws, and the punishment of them. But it has to be enforced," Kelkye says.
"If you have a criminal that commits a crime with a firearm in their hands, if he has 20 years, he got to serve 20 years. No parole. If you kill someone with a firearm, you should be executed," he continues.
Gun rights supporters point to the 2nd Amendment to the US Constitution for their arguments. But those who back gun control legislation point out that the 2nd Amendment right to bear arms is not absolute.
About 700 people on both sides of the debate signed up to testify before the Senate Committee on Wednesday. The hearing lasted more than eight hours.