Kamenetz, Johnson call for tougher national gun laws
Wednesday, 02 January 2013 12:20

Kamenetz and Johnson call for new restrictions

by Ben Boehl

    After the deadly school shootings at Sandy Hook Elementary School  in Newtown, Conn., Baltimore County Executive Kevin Kamenetz and Baltimore County Police Chief Jim Johnson say they want tougher new gun laws.
    Johnson is the Chair of the National Law Enforcement Partnership to Prevent Gun Violence, an organization of law enforcement experts that has developed specific proposals aimed at curtailing gun violence.
    “The Partnership is comprised of numerous groups like the International Association of Chiefs of Police, the Major Cities Chiefs, the Police Executive Research Forum, the International Association of Campus Law Enforcement Administrators and many others,” Johnson said at a Dec. 17 press conference.
   

While Johnson’s proposal comes in the aftermath of the shooting at the Newtown school, he also wants to see tougher gun laws because of the 163 law enforcement officers killed in 2011, 70 were killed by firearms.
    “Gun violence is a public health epidemic. It is impacting us all,” Johnson explained. 
    “Last year, for the first time in 14 years, guns were the leading cause of death for law enforcement officers killed in the line of duty.”
    Johnson went to the White House on Dec. 20 to meet with Vice President Joseph Biden and members of President Barack Obama’s cabinet to discuss proposals for curbing gun violence. Biden was tasked by Obama with leading the administration’s effort to develop proposals for dealing with gun violence.
    “It is time for our lawmakers to act. We need background checks for all gun purchasers. Right now, federal law requires a check if you buy a gun from a licensed dealer. But 40 percent of gun sales are not made through gun dealers — they are private transactions which occur at gun shows, on the Internet or through a classified ad — which means no check is required. That is like allowing 40 percent of airline travelers to go through airport security in a separate line that has no checks,” Johnson noted.    
    “Maryland does require, under certain conditions, background checks for non-dealer sales. However, this can be bypassed by purchasing guns outside the state of Maryland, from states which do not require a background check.”
    Kamenetz wrote a letter to state and federal officials last month asking that immediate action take place on the gun safety measures proposed by national law enforcement groups.  The county executive said he was ready to advocate for these changes in Baltimore County.
    “The Newtown experience should bring about a new attitude about gun violence. I encourage our state and federal officials to take immediate action to accomplish three things: stop allowing exceptions to national background checks; stop the sale of military-grade assault weapons that can out-gun our police officers and stop the sale of high-capacity magazines of more than 10 rounds,” Kamenetz wrote.
    Kamenetz reiterated that he is not against the Second Amendment, but there is no place for assault weapons in Baltimore County or anywhere else in the nation.
    “The people of Baltimore County and the people all across the nation should not have access to the weapons of war. An assault rifle used to battle the Taliban has no place in Towson, Dundalk or Catonsville,” Kamenetz explained.
    “In our wildest dreams, it is impossible to imagine that the right to bear arms would mean that citizens could walk the streets with assault rifles issued to soldiers on the battlefield or weapons that utilize high-capacity magazines.”