ANNAPOLIS — Gun-control activists expressed surprise and concern yesterday that Gov. Parris N. Glendening has not yet made a commitment to sign a bill requiring all Maryland public schools to teach gun-safety courses.
With just three days left before the governor announces his vetoes of bills passed by the 2001 General Assembly, supporters of the gun-safety education bill plan to step up pressure on Mr. Glendening to make sure he signs it.
Michelle Byrnie, the governors press secretary, said the bill “is still under review.”“There were some questions that were raised,” she said, but would not say what questions prompted a continuing review.
Supporters attending yesterdays news conference commemorating last years Million Mom March in Washington had not anticipated any problems with the bill, which was introduced with Mr. Glendenings backing.
“Hes been telling us hes going to sign it,” Carole Price, president of Marylanders Against Handgun Abuse, said. “It will be shameful if he vetoes it.”
Greg Costa, Maryland lobbyist for the National Rifle Association, said his organization hopes Mr. Glendening will sign the bill.”It is good for the students of Maryland. We think with parents having the ability to affect their local school boards, the (curriculum) decision of each county will reflect public opinion in those counties,” he said.
Gun-rights activists said they believe the review may be focused on a change made in the bill after it was introduced allowing schools to take middle school and high school students to shooting ranges to teach them how to handle guns safely.
Sen. Barbara Hoffman, Baltimore Democrat, a supporter of gun-control laws and a sponsor of the gun-safety bills, said that provision makes sense, especially in rural areas where hunting is more common than in urban areas.
“Youll never see it in the Baltimore city curriculum, but youll see it in Allegany and Garrett counties, and thats all right,” she said of the Western Maryland jurisdictions.
“The only people who oppose this bill are the loopy liberals and the gun nuts,” Mrs. Hoffman said. “The people in the middle understand the importance of education.”
If Mr. Glendening signs the bill, it would require school boards in Baltimore and the 23 counties to set up a gun-safety curriculum from elementary through high school.