Death penalty repeal, gun-control bill reach Senate floor
Wednesday, 27 February 2013 11:05

Sen. Stone opposed both in committee 

by Bill Gates

    The death penalty in Maryland may be living on borrowed time after a  repeal bill finally made it out of a Senate committee last week.
    It marked the first time a bill repealing the death penalty has made it to the floor of the Maryland Senate for an open vote.
    The Senate is expected to vote on the bill later this week. If it passes, it will be sent to the House of Delegates for approval.
    The Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee approved the bill by a 6-5 vote after Sen. Robert Zirkin, a Baltimore County Democrat, switched to supporting the bill.
    Sixth District Sen. Norman R. Stone, also a Democrat, voted against sending the bill to the Senate floor.
    “I still think the death penalty is a deterrent,” Stone said. “Experts say there is no evidence that it is a deterrent, but I think it’s really hard to determine how many people don’t committ [capital crimes] because the death penalty is on the books.”
    Maryland currently has five prisoners on death row.
   

The last execution took place in Maryland in Dec. 5, 2005. Since then, a moratorium on state capital punishment has been in effect while the procedures are under review.
    No executions took place in Maryland from 1961 through 1994, when John F. Thanos was put to death for murdering three people in a robbery.
    Flint Gregory Hunt was executed in July, 1997, for the murder of Baltimore City Police Officer Vincent Adolfo, who grew up in Colgate.
    All five men executed since 1994 were killed by lethal injection.
    If the repeal passes, Maryland would become the 18th state to end capital punishment.
    Twenty-six senators have indicated they support repealing the death penalty, two more than would be needed to pass the bill.
    People opposed to repealing the death penalty have already threatened to start a petition drive to send the bill to referendum if it passes.
    The Judicial Proceedings Committee also passed a gun-control bill by a 7-4 vote last week.
    Stone voted against sending the bill to the Senate floor.
    “There are sufficient gun laws currently on the books,” Stone said. “All the [new bill] will do is drive people underground to buy guns. At least now, when someone buys a gun, information about the buyer is collected and there is a record of it.”
    Stone said his office has been receiving thousands of emails a day and hundreds of phone calls, many from constituents, asking him to oppose the gun-control bill.
    The new legislation would ban assault weapons, tighten school security, make it more difficult for people with a history of mental illness to own guns, and impose strict gun-licensing requirements.