Gun backers draw bead on O’Malley plan

Hundreds testify for, against proposals on assault weapons, licensing

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Mr. Gansler, who also said the state cannot confiscate guns already owned, issued an opinion last week vouching for the legality of Mr. O'Malley’s legislation.

Gun rights advocates argue that the provisions will affect mainly law-abiding gun owners and do little to stop criminals. Republicans have compared the bill’s $100 fee and heightened training requirements to poll taxes — Jim Crow-era laws imposed in many Southern states, which were often designed to discourage participation by poor, black citizens.

“Only the rich are going to [buy guns], and that’s exactly what we saw in D.C.” said Ricardo Royal, national president of the Community Association for Firearms Education, talking about the costs associated with registering a gun in the District after the Supreme Court overturned the city’s handgun ban in the 2008 District of Columbia v. Heller case.

Even some Democrats have suggested that Mr. O'Malley’s bill will face some Democratic opposition and will need reworking.

Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller Jr., Prince George’s Democrat, has been especially critical of the licensing requirement, suggesting that it could “trample” on Second Amendment rights.

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