- The Washington Times - Monday, December 31, 2001

A new gun-control law that takes effect tomorrow will force Maryland customers to watch a two-hour movie on gun safety before buying a firearm a requirement that draws hoots from critics, who say it will do nothing to prevent gun crime or violence.
"It is one of the most meaningless bits of legislation ever passed by the Maryland legislature, [Democratic Gov. Parris N.] Glendening and his gun-control people" said Carl Roy, president of the Maryland Small Arms Range Inc. in Upper Marlboro, which drew a large number of practice shooters yesterday.
"A cadaver could come in here and watch the video, and it would not make a difference," he said.
Law-enforcement officers and those in the military or with honorable discharges do not have to take what the new law describes as a "firearms safety training course."
There is no test after the video and no time allotted for follow-up questions, which is one of the faults of the law, said Michael D. Cassidy, a firearms instructor who works at the range. He is certified to teach gun safety by the National Rifle Association.
"When I finish my course, I easily have 20 or 30 basic questions that people ask," said Mr. Cassidy. "This [law] is just a waste of time."
As of yesterday, Mr. Roy, who sells guns and ammunition at his range, said the state had not given him any information about how or where the video will be shown, or what the video will teach or what the range instructors are supposed to say if the job of showing the video falls on their shoulders.
Maryland has one of the more restrictive gun-ownership policies in the country, including regulations on gun casings, gun locks and, now, purchasing requirements.
One shooting enthusiast said the old expression about the road to ruin being paved with good intentions applies to Maryland's gun laws.
"The law [already] says you are required to buy a lock for your handgun, but they don't show you how to use it, and for all they know, once you leave you can just keep the lock in the plastic bag and never put it on the gun what good does that do?" said Roxanne Fus of Silver Spring, who was target shooting with her family yesterday.
"Or you can just come back the next day and return [the handgun lock] and get your money back," said Danielle Fus, 19, who joined her parents and sister at the range for recreational shooting.
Mr. Roy confirmed that Miss Fus was correct. The law requires only that customers buy the locks at the same time they buy their guns. It does not require them to keep the locks.
In addition to this bill, the Maryland legislature this year overwhelmingly passed a law, which Mr. Glendening vetoed, that would have made Maryland the first state to require public schools to teach gun safety from kindergarten through 12th grade.
The bill stipulated that educators would work with the NRA and other gun organizations to create gun-safety courses for middle and high school students, including taking them to local gun ranges.
"This bill would create a clear appearance of the state encouraging young people to handle weapons and potentially furthering their interest in a time when we are trying to fight the scourge of gun violence," Mr. Glendening said at the time.
This is the type of course that Mr. Roy and Miss Fus said was needed.
When she bought her first gun, Miss Fus took a monthlong course at the Izzak Walton League, which required her to attend classes once a week for several hours to familiarize herself with the gun.
Some gun enthusiasts, however, say a two-hour movie is better than nothing.
"While there is no interaction, it's still more information than you would have had before," said Steve Moskowitz of College Park.



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