On Dec. 20, The City of Rockville, local government officials, and anti-gun interest groups sponsored a rally against gun violence at the Old Gray Courthouse.
The large number of shootings in the past year has brought the discussion on gun laws to the forefront of national, state, and local politics.
In an effort to bring citizens and the government together against guns, the rally served as an opportunity for people to learn what legislation has been passed regarding guns as well as to hear differing opinions on the topic. Speakers included local Police Chief Tom Manger, County Executive Ike Leggett, and Congressman Chris Van Hollen. The rally welcomed over 100 people.
Legislation to regulate guns is not easily passed at the federal and state level mainly because of pro-gun interest groups such as the National Rifle Association (NRA). The NRA extensively lobbies in favor of gun ownership and funds numerous political campaigns to gain support. According to Ana Sol-Gutierrez, the District 18 representative for the Maryland House of Delegates, Congress recently rejected a bill mandating that people on the No Fly List should also be on the No Buy List for guns, which was due in part to the influence of the NRA. On the other hand, the Federal Assault Weapons Ban does prohibit ordinary civilians from using certain semi-automatic firearms and large capacity ammunition magazines.
Gutierrez participated in the rally and spoke with the MoCo Student in favor of gun violence and the necessity for more restrictive legislation:
“The rally this evening was important because I believe that it is only going to be with grassroots actions that we are going to be able to change the current paralysis that we see at the federal level. I think it’s going to be when voters decide they’re no longer going to elect people that are opposing any kind of gun legislation that we’ll finally see a change. The federal level can do many activities…but for the most part, it is states that regulate guns,” said Gutierrez.
Legislation has also been passed at the state level to restrict gun use. For example, the state of Maryland has now outlined more extensive training requirements for new gun users to replace the old standard of watching a 20-minute video. However, even with the passing of such legislation, gun control proponents do not believe the problem has been solved. People can still cross the river and access guns in Virginia. If guns are going to be controlled, all states are going to have to band together and commit to the cause.
Article by MoCo Student Community editor Deepti Agnihotri of Poolesville High School