"Their sole purpose is not for sport; it is to kill human beings — as quickly and as many as possible, as effectively as possible," O'Malley said, referring to guns like the semiautomatic Bushmaster rifle used last month in the shooting deaths of 20 Connecticut children.
"I believe that we will, in fact, pass legislation that … restores the assault weapons ban," O'Malley said. Assault weapons have been legal in Maryland since a federal ban was allowed to expire in 2004. Several state lawmakers have said they will propose a ban.
The proposals are part of a broader push nationally for gun control legislation since the Newtown shootings. New York Gov.
O'Malley, a death penalty opponent, has not said if he will make repeal part of his legislative agenda this year.
O'Malley, Miller and Busch offered comments on prospects for high-profile issues expected to dominate discussion in the next 90 days as the Assembly convened its 433rd legislative session in
Remarks about the assault weapons ban and the death penalty came during a radio interview in which Miller and Busch raised concerns about the top legislative priority of city officials.
The Rawlings-Blake administration wants the state to promise Baltimore more than $30 million a year over the next two decades, which the city would then leverage to borrow more and create a $2.4 billion fund to repair crumbling school buildings.
Miller dismissed the idea as "ridiculous," since the state would be borrowing money to send the city, which in turn would use it to pay off more loans. "You don't borrow debt against debt," Miller said. "I'm all for funding schools, but you need to find another way to do it."
Busch questioned the financial risk to the state. And Miller criticized the city's handling of its finances, saying, "Baltimore City cannot meet its current fiscal obligations. We need to find a way to help them help themselves."
"I'm sure once he gets all the information, he'll have a different comment," she said.
Miller and Busch were each re-elected to the leadership positions in their respective chambers before a crowd that included O'Malley, Lt. Governor
The newly polished marble floor separating the two chambers was the site of wall-to-wall glad-handing, back-slapping, greetings and ribbings. Comptroller
The session follows last year's unusually busy and emotionally charged legislative season, after which lawmakers were twice called back to Annapolis to finish state business. Four laws passed by the Assembly were subject to voter approval, giving some legislators the sense their work went unfinished until Election Day.
"It feels like we just left," Del.
Del. Tom Hucker's 16-month-old son, Sam, who last year spent opening day lying on his father's desk as an infant, this year reclined in the delegates' lounge and gave fist bumps to passing lawmakers. "It's a little bit like the dawn of springtime — it's all about new possibilities," said Hucker, a
In the basement of the State House, librarians resumed their posts at an information desk abandoned during the off-season. Shoe-shine operators set up shop nearby.
Outside the State House, lobbyists, interns and activists milled about Lawyer's Mall, the perennial arena for protests. There, Montgomery County Del. Heather Mizeur, a Democrat who has expressed interest in running for governor, urged opponents of hydraulic fracking to offer lawmakers a glass of dirty-brown water said to be a by-product of natural gas extraction.
Busch, who was first elected speaker a decade ago, told his colleagues that every year on the night before the session, he comes alone to the abandoned chamber and tries out the views from the seats of other delegates, including that of the Republican leader, Del. Anthony O'Donnell.
"It makes me realize what a privilege it is to serve in these great chambers," he said. "What a humbling experience it is for all of us to be important to this democracy."