- Child killed, 4 injured in Idaho elementary school bus crash
- Obama downplays IRS scandal, blames Obamacare rollout on ‘outdated’ agencies
- Pregnancies decline overall, up among older women
- Pentagon plans to destroy Syrian chemical arms on ship at sea
- Paris Metro issues ‘politeness manual’ to improve passengers’ behavior
- Justin Bieber, crew detained at Australian airport in drug search
- Lee Rigby trial: Muslim who machete-hacked soldier calls it ‘humane’ kill
- GM ending Chevy sales in Europe to focus on Opel and Vauxhall
- Putin’s diplomats to U.S. busted for living high life off $1.5M bilked from Medicaid
- Happy Meal: Couple goes to McDonald’s, leaves with bag packed with cash
Off-campus murder-suicide may impact gun-control bill
The murder-suicide involving a University of Maryland, College Park, student who was on medication for mental illness will likely affect the debate over Gov. Martin O'Malley's gun control bill and its safeguards against gun purchases by the mentally ill.
State lawmakers have remained quiet in the aftermath of last week's shooting by Dayvon Green, a 23-year-old graduate student whom authorities say shot his two roommates — killing one — before turning the gun on himself.
The governor's bill would make it harder for people with documented mental illnesses to legally purchase handguns, but it is not yet clear whether its restrictions would have stopped Green, who legally bought the 9 mm pistol he used in the killings and a semiautomatic Uzi rifle that wasn't fired but was found at the scene.
Many lawmakers say they are waiting for more details from the police investigation before deciding whether Green's case could force changes to the legislation, but gun bill supporters insist the incident is further proof of its necessity.
"We have an epidemic of gun violence and this is just another example of it," said Sen. Brian E. Frosh, Montgomery Democrat and chairman of the Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee which is vetting the bill. "It's another one that was potentially preventable if we had reasonable measures in place, but we're never going to be able to prevent every single gun tragedy."
Mr. O'Malley, a Democrat, has been harshly criticized by Republicans, gun-rights activists and even some Democrats for his sponsorship of the bill, which also would ban assault weapons, limit handgun magazines to no more than 10 rounds and require residents to obtain a license and pay a $100 fee before buying a handgun.
Hundreds of protesters rallied against the bill on Feb. 6 in Annapolis, but their complaints were mainly over those provisions and not the legislation's restrictions on purchases by the mentally ill.
Current law bars any resident from possessing a handgun if they have both a documented mental illness and a history of violence, or if they have spent more than 30 consecutive days in a mental health facility.
The governor's bill would extend those restrictions to anyone who is subject to a protective order in another state or has been found incompetent to stand trial or not criminally responsible for psychological reasons in court.
Green had no criminal history and spent an undisclosed amount of time in a mental facility, but Mr. Frosh said he thinks the governor's bill would have at least made it harder for him to kill because it would ban the Uzi that he had but did not use.
A representative from the governor's office declined to discuss the Green case and whether it could affect the bill until after the investigation plays out.
Republicans have acknowledged that preventing gun crimes by the mentally ill should be a major priority but have said they would prefer to see it done through programs encouraging people to seek help for themselves or others dealing with psychological issues.
"The bill does nothing to make community services available or help people get treatment," Delegate Michael D. Smigiel Sr., Cecil Republican, said this month. "Why don't we address the real issues with mental health and address the criminals first?"
Shannon Frattaroli, a professor at Johns Hopkins University's Bloomberg School of Public Health, said developing legislation to address gun ownership by the mentally ill is often difficult because lawmakers have to find solutions that improve safety without intruding on gun owners' rights or stigmatizing mental illness.
She said many mental-health advocates worry that harsh laws may discourage people from seeking treatment, and she added that studies show most people with mental illnesses are no more likely than the average person to commit violent crimes.
She said lawmakers have good reason to re-examine their laws following violent tragedies such as the Green shooting and December's mass shootings in Newtown, Conn., and Aurora, Colo., but that the public has an incomplete understanding of such issues.
"We don't have a lot of good research to inform and help us approach this problem," Ms. Frattaroli said. "It's a thorny issue."
© Copyright 2013 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.
About the Author
David Hill joined The Washington Times in February 2011 as a Maryland political reporter. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Md. drivers could face eventual doubling of gas tax
- Federal appeals court restores Maryland's concealed carry law
- Md. bill would end student suspensions for mimicking gun behavior
- Maryland Senate passes bill decriminalizing small amounts of marijuana
- Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell assailed on transportation
Latest Blog Entries
Why such hatred toward America's freedom of religion?
- 'Hunger Games' delivers Obama's message on income inequality: liberal group
- Activists urge Obama to go rogue, sidestep Congress
- PRUDEN: British press horrified as London's new mayor dares to proclaim the truth
- Hack attack: 2 million Facebook, Twitter passwords stolen
- Inside China: Nuclear submarines capable of widespread attack on U.S.
- NAPOLITANO: Pope Francis should be saving souls, not pocketbooks
- Blast of winter weather heads to D.C. area
- GOP launches candidate training: How to talk to women
- Russian diplomats busted bilking $1.5 million from Medicaid
- CARSON: Getting to the top by starting at the bottom
Independent voices from the The Washington Times Communities
Criticism may not be agreeable, but it is necessary. It fulfills the same function as pain in the human body. It calls attention to an unhealthy state of things.
Understanding economic events with a free market explanation
John Wood illustrates a new American politics, and the path to get there.
Interviews and show reviews from the Los Angeles punk scene past and present. Los Angeles has always been rich in punk rock talent since punk rock was born.
White House pets gone wild!