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Opinion: Columnists

Baltimore killings go on despite Maryland gun laws

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Maryland,Gregory Kane,Columnists,Gun Control,Voter Registration,Polls,Corruption,Analysis,Constitutionality,Judicial Review

So here's how Baltimore's 10 days of gun violence from hell went: About 40 people shot, 16 of them fatally.

Baltimore police Commissioner Anthony W. Batts has decried the violence, as has Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake. Several members of the Baltimore City Council have also weighed in. But, so far, there's been nothing but silence from the one group of politicians Baltimore citizens need to hear from.

That would be Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley, who was mayor of Baltimore before he was elected governor. And it would be nice to hear from members of Baltimore's delegation to the state Legislature.

You know, the ones with nary a Republican in their ranks. The ones that voted, during the last legislative session, to pass a bill banning assault weapons and another bill that requires any law-abiding citizen that wants to buy a firearm in Maryland to be fingerprinted.

Now dopey me - and thousands of other Marylanders - thought that fingerprinting was something done after a person has been arrested and booked for a crime. Or as a requirement for a job that has a high security clearance.

Maryland's Democratic legislators - and the state's governor - decided to change all that. For them, anyone desiring to buy a firearm automatically became a criminal suspect, a public menace worthy of being fingerprinted.

If it wasn't clear before, it's clear now: Maryland Democrats' greatest fear is a law-abiding citizen armed with a handgun or a rifle.

Violent miscreants with long criminal histories - like the ones currently causing the mayhem on Baltimore's streets, according to various police spokespersons - concern Maryland Democrats not at all.

During the most recent session of the state Legislature, Maryland Democrats focused on two problems that didn't exist. The ban on assault weapons has decreased gun violence in Baltimore not one iota.

That's because few, if any, of the shootings were done with assault weapons.

And the fingerprinting requirement affected only law-abiding citizens that want to buy firearms. It had no impact on Baltimore's criminal element at all.

What Marylanders had during the most recent legislative session was a bunch of posturing from Democrats - state senators, delegates and the governor - about gun violence. They were convinced they needed to "do something" in the wake of the massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn.

The "something" they chose to do had nothing to do with the reality of gun violence in either Maryland or the city of Baltimore, where gun violence historically has been the most deadly.

And, when they passed their ineffective and bogus legislation, they had the nerve to be proud of it. They patted themselves on the back about what they'd done.

O'Malley - true to his nickname of "Martin O'Shameless" - was no better. Democrats throughout the state praised the assault weapons ban, and loved the thought of busting the hump of law-abiding citizens by requiring them to be fingerprinted if they want to buy firearms.

Their posturing and misguided efforts at lawmaking have now come back to bite them all in the rear ends. And I pray that a huge chunk is taken out of each of their rear ends.

Not one member of Maryland's Legislature has commented about the 10-day spate of gun violence. None has spoken out about the claim by police that, of the arrests made since the violent incidents, the suspects all have extensive criminal histories.

O'Malley has been mum too. Mind you, when the Legislature was in session and the bills to ban assault weapons and to require law-abiding citizens to be fingerprinted were being debated, O'Malley and his Democratic cohorts in the Legislature couldn't shut up about the topics.

It would be nice to hear from at least one of them. And it would be nice to hear that person say this: "Boy, wrong we were."

GREGORY KANE, a Washington Examiner columnist, is a Pulitzer Prize-nominated news and opinion journalist who has covered people and politics from Baltimore to the Sudan.

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