Councilmember's Corner: Calling on Maryland & Virginia to join DC’s full assault weapons ban

by Brandon Todd

In the wake of the horrific school shooting in Parkland, Florida, and the far too many that preceded it, now yet another school shooting in St. Mary's County, Maryland occurs this week while the nation continues to seek practical solutions to the epidemic of gun violence.

While the District remains a leader in gun control, boasting some of the nation’s strictest gun laws, a gaping and deadly systemic flaw remains – assault weapons illegally brought into DC from other states with looser restrictions. To address this, I introduced a “Sense of the Council” Resolution earlier this month calling on Virginia and Maryland to join the District of Columbia in fully banning assault-style weapons.

The “Sense of the Council Virginia and Maryland Assault Rifle Prohibition Resolution of 2018” calls on the Virginia and Maryland legislatures to ban assault rifles to help prevent such weapons from being brought into the District of Columbia, where assault weapons are illegal. Co-introduced by nine other Councilmembers, the Resolution cites that the AR-15 and similar assault rifles were central to the school shootings in Sandy Hook, Parkland, and elsewhere.

Currently, only seven states and the District ban assault rifles. Virginia has not banned these weapons and allows anyone 18 years or older that passes a three-page background check to purchase an assault rifle. Maryland has banned assault rifles, but grandfathered-in those who owned such weapons before the ban and left a loophole for the H-BAR 15, a “heavy barreled” AR-15 used for target practice.

As the nationwide movement for gun control continues to gain momentum, it is critical that the Washington Metropolitan region’s jurisdictions be unified in commonsense action to ensure weapons of war have no place in our neighborhoods.

I call on my colleagues in Virginia to take the necessary step of banning assault-style weapons, and on Maryland to close all loopholes that have the potential to allow these killing machines into the District.

The time has come for bold action to protect our people. We cannot wait any longer.

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