The murder-suicide that left two
Gun control proponents said they hoped the incident Tuesday — in which police say a graduate engineering student from Baltimore shot his two roommates, one fatally, before killing himself — would spur legislators to approve the sweeping measure put forward last month by Gov.
"It damn well better," said Sen.
Police have said that Dayvon Maurice Green, the 23-year-old graduate student, shot his roommates with a 9 mm handgun, a firearm that would not be affected by the governor's bill. But Rosapepe pointed out that the shooter had 20-bullet magazines that would be outlawed under the proposal, as well as a .22-caliber UZI B semiautomatic rifle that would no longer be allowed to be sold.
"Sometimes people feel they need to do something," he said. "But that something can be a bearer of false hope."
The governor's bill would ban the sale of assault rifles and limit the size of magazines to 10 bullets. It also would require handgun buyers to be licensed and restrict access to guns for some individuals with serious mental illness.
It's not clear that any other provisions in the legislation would have done anything to deter the shooting. The handgun police say Green used in the shooting would still be legal, though he would have been required to get a license and undergo training.
One shooting-related issue over which legislators still seemed to be wrestling was what more might be done to limit the ability of the mentally ill to buy guns. Police reports that the College Park shooting was done by someone who had been suffering from a mental illness was noted by lawmakers on both sides of the debate.
"I would hope it sends a signal to the governor's office that they need to focus more on
State law now bars gun sales to anyone who has been confined in a state mental hospital for more than 30 days. The governor's bill would expand that some, said Dr. Joshua Sharfstein, Maryland's health secretary, by barring sales to persons subject to "civil commitment" by the courts for treatment because they made threats to harm others.
Sharfstein estimated those provisions would prevent hundreds more from buying guns in Maryland. The governor's bill also would put into a federal database the names of about 50,000 people now prohibited from buying guns in Maryland but who can clear a background check in another state.
He indicated Wednesday the administration may well propose to broaden those restrictions even more, to cover all people subject to court-ordered civil commitments, even if they only are deemed to pose a threat to themselves. He estimated that there are 1,200 commitments a year in all.
"We've heard some very compelling arguments why it should be all civil commitments," he said, "and we're very seriously looking at that."
A task force created by the General Assembly last year to study how to limit access of the mentally ill to firearms had recommended requiring mental health professionals to report threats of violence made by their patients. But that is opposed by clinicians worried it would scare away people who need treatment.
"We don't want anybody who ever suffered from a moment of depression to worry 'Will my rights be abridged,'" said Sen.
At the federal level, Baltimore Rep.
"We should enact the laws needed to ensure that when we send our children to school, they will not come home in a coffin," Cummings, a Baltimore Democrat, said in a statement.
Cummings, also a leading sponsor of a bipartisan gun control measure in the House, has been personally affected by gun violence. His 20-year-old nephew, a student at
Baltimore Sun reporters John Fritze and Michael Dresser contributed to this article.