Pro-2A Groups Swarm Maryland Gun Control Hearings

According to mrc.org, gun control advocates are getting eight times as much press coverage as supporters of the second amendment. Case in point: while the rather tiny march organized by the optimistically named One Million Moms for Gun Control was covered by CNN, despite barely filling a sidewalk, the massive turnout in Annapolis yesterday in support of gun rights went largely unnoticed. Well, by everyone except the Washington Times that is . . .

Hundreds of gun-rights supporters who gathered Wednesday in Annapolis are now lined up to testify against a proposal by Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley that would ban assault weapons and require residents to obtain a license before purchasing handguns.

The Second Amendment advocates held a morning rally outside the State House to show their disapproval in advance of this afternoon’s Senate hearing on the legislation.

The Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee hearing began at 1 p.m. and was expected to stretch to at least 9 p.m., as more than 400 people were signed up to testify as of 3 p.m. Senate staff members said hundreds more were lined up outside the Senate legislative building, hoping to submit testimony.

“We have come to a point where hysteria is ruling the debate,” Tom Morris Jr., a gun-rights advocate and former correspondent for the TV series “America’s Most Wanted,” told the committee. “There’s so much in [the bill] that’s detached from reality.”

This has been happening all across the country. Meetings have been swarmed by people arguing to protect their right to keep and bear arms from government infringement, from the Newtown meetings to local rallies at state capitols. And while its effect on the politicians has yet to be seen, there’s no doubt that it’s damned impressive to watch.

In fact, it’s up for debate whether these hearings will have any impact on the legislative agenda whatsoever. Call me cynical, but I see these as exercises in confirmation bias. In the minds of the pols, if tons of gun control advocates come out then obviously the population is clamoring for more restrictions and more gun control is the right thing to do. But if tons of gun rights “nut jobs” turn up, then obviously they’re trying to bully the politicians into promoting murder. Heads you win, tails I lose.

This isn’t just conjecture, either. One gun rights supporter stated to the committee “ignore this crowd at your future political peril,” to which Brian E. Frosh (judicial committee chairman) stated under his breath “I’ll take my chances.”

One of our readers, Kilroy Collins (whose photos adorn this post) made it out to the Maryland rally and snapped some pictures to share with us. He had this to say about the rally:

After driving in circles due to the President also visiting Annapolis today, I got to Lawyers Square around 11:20am. There were approximately 1,500-2,500 people there, sporadically cheering the pro-gun speakers. Many people had signs, and there was a homemade billboard truck driving laps around the block. People were circulating petitions and handing out pro-gun stickers. I didn’t see any counter-protestors outside, and only saw 4 inside the Senate building.

At the Senate building, I got in line to hand in written testimony and sign up for oral testimony. The line went from the street, through the courtyard, along the halls, and upstairs to the hearing room. Rumor was that there were hundreds of people already signed up to testify. At 1300, I gave up on registering to speak, and went into an overflow room to hear the Judicial Committee session. It was standing room only, with people overflowing into the halls.

Governor O’Malley spoke in support of the bill, followed by the Lt. Governor, and various other government representatives. They were followed by various pro-gun associations and industry groups, including Beretta USA, NRA-ILA, and NSSF. The session was then organized into hour blocks of alternating viewpoints, despite the vast majority of attendees being against the bill. The senate building actually had to be closed because there were too many people waiting to get in. Tables were set up outside and people continued to sign up to speak.

As I’m writing this, the testimony is ongoing, with enough people signed up to keep testimony going for a few days.

Democracy in action is a beautiful thing.