- The Washington Times - Friday, February 22, 2013

Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley’s gun control bill has been approved by a Senate committee, which passed the legislation late Thursday but added some changes that would decrease certain licensing fees and strengthen protections against handgun purchases by the mentally ill.

The Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee voted 7-4 in favor of the bill Thursday night, sending it to the Senate floor where debate is expected to begin next week. The legislation has yet to be taken up in the House.

The Democratic governor’s bill would most notably require residents to obtain a license before buying a handgun, and would also ban assault weapons and lower the limit on magazine capacities.

The bill would have forced applicants to pay $100 for a purchasing license and $100 to renew it every five years, but the Senate committee lowered the license fee to $50 and renewal fees to $20 every 10 years.

The committee also amended the bill to outlaw gun ownership by anyone who has been involuntarily committed to a mental health facility for any length of time. The bill originally banned ownership only for those who were confined for more than 30 days.

People who have voluntarily entered a mental facility would be still be able to own guns as long as they stayed for fewer than 30 days.

The Judicial Proceedings Committee also voted 6-5 in favor of a proposal to repeal the state’s death penalty, sending the bill to the full 47-member Senate.

Maryland has not executed a prisoner since 2005, and none under Mr. O’Malley, who sponsored the bill.