Gun control supporters and opponents descended on a hearing room in Annapolis to debate a package of bills that is likely to be as divisive as any issue during the 90-day General Assembly session.
"We are still losing too many of our citizens to gun violence," O'Malley said. "There's no such thing in our state as a spare American."
Hundreds gathered outside the State House Wednesday morning, hours before O'Malley was to testify, to rally against the proposed laws.
A line of people waiting to testify stretched outside the Senate office building. More than 500 people signed up to testify even though the committee limited testimony to just three minutes per person and a total of four hours each for all supporters and opponents of the proposed laws.
The committee took testimony on four bills that would make it more difficult for "straw buyers" to illegally obtain guns for criminals, increase gun licensing regulations, limit the size of ammunition magazines to 10 rounds and increase the penalties for armor-piercing ammunition.
But O'Malley's bill, which bans so-called military-style assault weapons and requires fingerprinting for all handgun purchases, drew the most testimony.
"We're licensing handguns not hunting rifles," O'Malley said.
Opponents of the bill say it unfairly penalizes legal gun owners and will hurt area businesses.
Tom Morris, a senior correspondent for the television show America's Most Wanted and a Maryland resident, said that while he understands why the legislature is considering the bill is merely reactionary.
"We are at a point where we all want something done about mass murder, mass violence," Morris said.
"At this juncture in our society, hysteria is ruing the debate," Morris said, adding that the bill as drafted "is detached from the basic realities of firearm ownership."
"it's punitive to law abiding citizens in this state," Morris said.
Jeff Reh, an attorney for Beretta USA, said O'Malley's bill has "raised a serious level of concern within the company."
The portion of the company located in the United States is headquartered in Accokeek, MD. The company expects to pay $31 million in taxes over the period of 1994 to 2014 and employee about 400 people, according to Reh.
"We're not confronted with a state that wants to ban the product we make," said Reh.
A number of law enforcement officials and states attorneys testified in favor of the bill.
"We have to be able to agree that there needs to be a line between the reasonable rights of gun owners and the right of the public to be safe," said Baltimore County State's Attorney Scott Shellenberger.
Gladden is accused of using a shotgun in that incident where one student, Daniel Borowy, was shot but Shellenberger said could have been much worse.
"There was a handgun that had 10 bullets in it and [Gladden] desired that weapon but could not get it because it was under lock and key," said Shellenberger.
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