A push from the top?

Indications are that Maryland’s emboldened gun control proponents will receive a boost Wednesday through a Presidential visit. As one legislator, State Senator Joe Getty, stated:

There is lots of chatter in the hallways of Annapolis that President Barack Obama will be visiting Annapolis to endorse the gun control legislation proposed by Governor Martin O’Malley.

That would make lots of sense on behalf of both politicians.

For Obama, it is unlikely that his gun control proposals will pass the U.S. House of Representatives, so positive benefits can be derived for him by aligning himself with the gun licensing requirements and weapons ban on the fast-track in a Democratic-controlled state.

For O’Malley, he not only get increased national exposure from the stature of a presidential visit but also the advocacy to bring potential recalcitrant Democrats into line with a presidential plea for party loyalty in the gun control debate.

Further credence is lent to the prospect through a note passed to me by a friend. This is a notice from the FAA regarding next Wednesday, February 6:

VIP Notice – Annapolis, Maryland

Notice Number: NOTC4556

Notice: Expect VIP movement February 06, 2013 in the vicinity of Annapolis, Maryland.  Pilots can expect airspace restrictions in conjunction with this VIP movement.  The FAA recommends that all aircraft operators check NOTAMs OFTEN for  mandatory airspace restrictions prior to operations within this region.

Specific instructions and restrictions are available at http://tfr.faa.gov once the NOTAM has been issued. (Emphasis in original.)

The February 6 date is significant because the governor’s pet gun control bill, SB281, is being heard that day by the Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee. Among other things, the 38-page bill requires registration of so-called “assault weapons” by November 1, 2013, reduces the allowable magazine capacity to 10 rounds, and establishes “handgun qualification licenses” (read: a series of expensive and intrusive hoops to jump through in order to possess what is supposed to be granted you through an inalienable right to self-defense.)

So how will the President’s visit affect the proceedings? Well, as Getty notes, the President’s appearance could bring a few more House Democrats to the gun grabbers’ side (this term is literally used, based on the bill’s requirements.) The conventional wisdom is that it has enough votes to pass in the Maryland Senate but its fate is much more iffy in the House of Delegates.

But there’s the pro-Second Amendment side to consider as well. If downtown Annapolis becomes a security zone, particularly if Barack Obama chooses to speak at Lawyers’ Mall, it may well leave protesters nowhere to go. They’d be scattered around and scattered is not newsworthy nor is it strength in numbers. Of course, it wouldn’t surprise me if busloads of fawning Obama supporters are brought in to provide the President with a supportive crowd.

And let’s not overlook another calculation made by the Democrats. Two of the biggest pet issues pro-liberty forces are concerned about in this legislative session are the onerous (and ultimately futile insofar as preventing crime goes) gun control measures being pushed by Martin O’Malley and the Tier Map repeal bill (HB106) proposed on the House side by Delegate Mike McDermott. It’s not for nothing that both the SB281 and HB106 hearings are being held at the exact same time in a brilliant piece of divide-and-conquer strategy. Bad enough that many working people (like me) can’t get to the hearings because they’re held during normal business hours in Annapolis, but to have two bills strongly opposed by pro-liberty citizens go through a hearing process at such an inconvenient time is a huge obstacle.

A suggestion I’m making to counter that is to submit written testimony. I’m speaking off the cuff here – so input would be appreciated – but having submitted written testimony before, I seem to recall the idea is to keep it to a length where, if spoken, it takes about 3 minutes to deliver – about 600 words, give or take. I plan on devoting part of my weekend to submitting written testimony for both bills, whether it will be on behalf of the entire Wicomico County Republican Central Committee or my own personal viewpoint.

One final word. The last thing we need with a Presidential visit is for someone to go off-message by making this a personal vendetta against Barack Obama. We can – and should – say that the President is wrong in trying to usurp our inalienable rights and continues to go to the extreme of emotional appeal as a knee-jerk reaction to a problem where guns were the tool but not the cause. Our side has proposed common-sense solutions that don’t involve making criminals out of otherwise law-abiding citizens, such as allowing willing teachers who go through a prescribed and recommended gun safety course - a monetary and time investment they are willing to voluntarily make – to carry their weapons in schools. Note again that mass shootings tend to happen in so-called “gun free zones” and stop once authorities with firepower arrive.

We can win this fight, despite the obstacles and star power placed in front of us. Obviously the other side is worried, for if it were a slam dunk fait accompli that the gun bill would pass there wouldn’t be a visit from Barack Obama until the bill was on Martin O’Malley’s desk. So let’s get out there and fight!

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