Gun con­trol tour stops in Md.

Vo­cal Ma­jor­ity Bus Tour is led by for­mer Rep. Gif­fords, who was se­ri­ously in­jured

Baltimore Sun - - NEWS - By Phil Davis

Rep. Chris Van Hollen joined a group headed by for­mer Rep. Gabrielle Gif­fords Tues­day to call on vot­ers to vote for can­di­dates who back gun con­trol mea­sures they deem “com­mon sense.”

The Demo­cratic can­di­date for the U.S. Se­nate made the push in An­napo­lis with mem­bers of the Amer­i­cans for Re­spon­si­ble So­lu­tions po­lit­i­cal ac­tion com­mit­tee, led by Gif­fords and her hus­band, re­tired Navy Capt. Mark Kelly. Gif­fords was shot in the head in 2011 in Tuc­son, Ariz., and suf­fered a se­vere brain in­jury.

Van Hollen said it was “de­spi­ca­ble” that the Re­pub­li­can ma­jor­ity in Congress has re­jected mo­tions from Democrats to bring gun con­trol leg­is­la­tion to a vote. Democrats have pro­posed leg­is­la­tion to re­quire uni­ver­sal crim­i­nal back­ground checks for all gun sales and to ban sales to those on the FBI’s ter­ror­ism no-fly list.

Van Hollen and other Mary­land Democrats par­tic­i­pated in a sit-in in June to protest the lack of leg­isla­tive ac­tion on the mea­sures.

“That’s why you saw the fil­i­buster. That’s why you saw the sit-in,” Van Hollen said. “They call it ‘The Peo­ple’s House,’ but the peo­ple in this coun­try were not even given the op­por­tu­nity to have a vote on these com­mon-sense gun mea­sures.”

House Re­pub­li­can of­fi­cials called the protest a pub­lic­ity stunt.

State Del. Kathy Szeliga of Bal­ti­more County, Van Hollen’s Re­pub­li­can op­po­nent in the race to re­place re­tir­ing Sen. Barbara A. Mikul­ski, has ad­vo­cated stricter en­force­ment of ex­ist­ing gun laws, but has not ex­pressed sup­port for the leg­is­la­tion in­tro­duced by Democrats.

She did not re­spond Tues­day to a re­quest for com­ment.

She has said she would take a broader ap­proach to ad­dress­ing vi­o­lence. She has spo­ken of “rad­i­cal Is­lam that has spilled over to our coun­try” and “those who are severely men­tally dis­turbed and have a ten­dency to act out vi­o­lently.”

Tues­day’s news con­fer­ence was part of a na­tion­wide push to spur vot­ers to the polls on the is­sue. The Vo­cal Ma­jor­ity Bus Tour high­lights polls that show a ma­jor­ity of Amer­i­cans sup­port­ing mea­sures such as re­quir­ing crim­i­nal back­ground checks.

Jen Pauliuko­nis, pres­i­dent of Mary­lan­ders to Pre­vent Gun Vi­o­lence, called for fed­eral ac­tion be­cause “too many guns flow into our com­mu­ni­ties from states” with more re­laxed gun laws.

“About 90 peo­ple are killed ev­ery day with a gun,” she said. “There are real faces and real peo­ple suf­fer­ing from the ex­cru­ci­at­ing pain of los­ing some­one to this vi­o­lence.”

Van Hollen has pro­posed cre­at­ing fed­eral fi­nan­cial in­cen­tives for states to en­act hand­gun-li­cens­ing pro­grams such as the one ap­proved in Mary­land in 2013.

The state law re­quires hand­gun pur­chasers to be fin­ger­printed and pass a train­ing class while bar­ring those who have been in­vol­un­tar­ily com­mit­ted to a men­tal health in­sti­tu­tion from own­ing a firearm.

Szeliga voted against that leg­is­la­tion in 2013.

Del. Kath­leen Du­mais, a Mont­gomery County Demo­crat who cham­pi­oned that bill, said Tues­day that stricter fed­eral laws are needed. She and Van Hollen urged sup­port for Demo­cratic pres­i­den­tial nom­i­nee Hil­lary Clin­ton.

The Na­tional Ri­fle As­so­ci­a­tion, which op­poses much of the leg­is­la­tion dis­cussed Tues­day, has sup­ported Re­pub­li­can nom­i­nee Don­ald Trump.

KEN KOONS/BAL­TI­MORE SUN ME­DIA GROUP

Chief Joseph Ole Ti­panko of the Maa­sai del­e­ga­tion from Kenya places a Maa­sai crown on Ebb Val­ley Ele­men­tary School stu­dent Sab­rina Smith on Tues­day as part of a school pre­sen­ta­tion.

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