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Mon, Sept. 23

Editorial: Maryland gun law needs to change

It was 2011 and Jared Lee Loughner fired 31 shots from his first magazine in the Tucson mass shooting before being tackled by witnesses. He severely injured U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, his target, and killed six other people.

In the days that followed we learned of a bill in Congress designed to ban gun ammunition magazines with more than 10 rounds of ammunition. The measure, by U.S. Rep. Carolyn McCarthy, D-N.Y., ultimately failed.

Fast-forward to this week: Twenty-one states have asked a federal appeals court to overturn Maryland's tough gun-control law, contending that its provisions banning 45 assault weapons and limiting gun magazines to 10 rounds violate the Second Amendment right to keep firearms at home for self-protection.

Maryland lawmakers passed the legislation in response to the December 2012 shootings at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut.

One side says the Maryland Firearms Safety Act of 2013, if upheld by the courts, would undermine a core part of the Second Amendment by banning popular firearms that can be used for self-defense.

On the other side, a spokeswoman for Democratic Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley criticized the action Monday: "A federal judge has already affirmed the constitutionality of this law. This effort by other states won't do anything to reduce violent crime or save lives."

They both are correct.

The law does undermine the Second Amendment, no matter the Founding Fathers' original intentions. And, striking the measure down will do nothing to reduce violent crime or save lives.

The answer, as we have stated before, is to attack the problem of these shootings at their core. The mental health system is failing the people who lash out in this way.

Authorities are failing to treat the mentally ill, track them from high school to college as they did not do in the Virginia Tech massacre, and the system for tracking gun sales - private or otherwise - is deficient.

In addition to Arizona, the other states involved are Alabama, Alaska, Florida, Idaho, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Michigan, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, New Mexico, North Dakota, Oklahoma, South Carolina, South Dakota, Texas, Utah and Wyoming.

An action such as that approved in Maryland appears just on the surface; but on second look, it chips away at our foundation to fix the roof.

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