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O'Malley: Expect new gun restrictions to be proposed in Md.

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Local,Maryland,Rachel Baye

Maryland lawmakers likely will consider several bills aimed at tightening restrictions on gun sales and ownership as a result of Friday's school shooting in Newtown, Conn., Gov. Martin O'Malley told reporters Tuesday.

"And the likelihood is that there will be a bill from this administration," he added, though he said he was not sure what the specifics will be.

Among the measures legislators probably will consider are bans on the sale of assault weapons and accompanying large magazines, ways to make sure that people suffering from mental illnesses do not have access to firearms, and improvements to safety policies at schools, O'Malley said. "It is work that I would guess every state in the union is going to be taking ever since this horrible tragedy."

In fact, four Democratic state senators from Montgomery County and Baltimore are already planning to introduce some of these measures.

The group -- Sens. Jamie Raskin, D-Silver Spring; Brian Frosh, D-Bethesda; Bill Ferguson, D-Baltimore, and Lisa Gladden, D-Baltimore -- plans to reintroduce an assault weapons ban that failed in committee in 2010.

The bill would prohibit the sale of assault long guns and pistols and magazines that hold more than 10 rounds.

Among the guns whose sale would be banned is the Bushmaster semi-automatic rifle, including the Bushmaster AR-15 that shooter Adam Lanza used to kill his elementary school victims. Lanza's AR-15 used a 30-round magazine.

"It's hard to conclude that these guns should be in the hands of anyone who isn't a soldier on a battlefield or a law enforcement officer sent into a tactical situation," O'Malley said of guns like the AR-15 Lanza used.

The four senators also plan to introduce a measure that would give the Maryland State Police the same authority that the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives has to regulate gun retailers. The goal is to prevent the "under the table" sale of weapons to known criminals, Raskin said.

That measure previously failed in the House of Delegates.

Although the bills failed in the past, the sponsors are confident that the massacre of 20 first-graders has changed the political landscape.

"Before, politicians were afraid to act because of the power of the gun lobby. Now I think politicians are afraid not to act because of the power of public opinion," Raskin said, referring specifically to the powerful National Rifle Association.

Even those who have expressed doubts in the past about the effectiveness of new gun control measures in preventing violence could support them in the coming term, O'Malley said. "I think there has been a change of heart and a greater open-mindedness in the wake of the murder of the innocent in Connecticut."

rbaye@washingtonexaminer.com

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