Maryland senators voted Thursday night to approve an amended gun control bill rather than send the legislation to conference committee.
Senators approved the bill by a vote of 28-19 just one day after the House debated the bill for 10 hours over two-days and added 17 amendments to a bill previously approved by the Senate.
The bill was a major component of Gov. Martin O’Malley’s legislative priorities for the 90-day legislative session.
“The fact is, the Firearm Safety Act of 2013 provides no safety,” said Sen. EJ Pipkin, Senate Minority Leader.
The concurrence means that the bill goes to Gov. Martin O’Malley for his signature rather than to a conference committee with just four days left in the session.
Sen. Brian Frosh, a Montgomery County Democrat and chairman of the Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee, asked legislators to oppose attempts to repeal the House amendments. He said sending the bill to conference committee “would kill the bill.”
The bill bans more than 40 types of guns including the AR-15. The legislation also prohibits persons who are involuntarily committed from owing a gun.
Also included in the bill is a controversial requirement for all future purchasers of regulated firearms to be fingerprinted and licensed. The changes in licensing represent the first time in two decades that any state has attempted to impose new licensing requirements.
Finally, the bill prohibits the possession of ammunition magazines that hold more than 10 rounds.
Supporters said the bill would prevent straw purchases of guns for those who could not otherwise legally purchase one.
Supporters of the bill successfully defeated attempts to remove three House amendments.
The first amendment disqualifies anyone sentenced to probation before judgment for a series of violent crimes including second-degree assault.
Opponents argued that the provision over-ruled judges who handed out the sentences because of extenuating circumstances.
The second amendment contested by gun control opponents provided a way for persons who were involuntarily committed to restore their gun rights and provided blanket civil and criminal liability to mental health professionals who certify patients as safe to own firearms.
The final contested House amendment, the so-called cop killer bullet amendment, would essentially ban the possession of all bullets in the state, according to Sen. J.B. Jennings, a Republican who represents Baltimore and Harford Counties.
Frosh said the bill only bans the possession armor-piercing bullets if they are used in the commission of a crime.