Two Maryland sheriffs are taking a stand for the Constitution and against proposed gun legislation. House Bill 786 seeks to regulate shotguns and hunting rifles in the same manner as handguns. It requires gun owners to obtain a long gun qualification license before being able to possess said guns. It also requires background checks on the private sales of long guns.
While the proposed law doesn’t specifically mandate the confiscation of firearms, it does allow the Department of State Police to create regulations to carry out the law. Those who violate the law would be guilty of a misdemeanor and have to pay a $10,000 fine and/or spend up to five years in jail.
Wicomico County Sheriff Mike Lewis made fiery comments in Annapolis on Monday regarding a bill that would require gun owners to register long guns.
The bill would regulate shotguns and rifles similarly to handguns. Long gun qualification licenses would require background checks even for private sales. The bill doesn't specifically mandate the confiscation of weapons but it would allow the Department of State Police to create regulations to carry out the law.
Sheriff Mike Lewis of Wicomico County was there to testify and says he will not support the bill even if it passes. His comments are raising eyebrows of advocates who support tighter gun laws in Maryland.
In a video shared on social media on Monday, Sheriff Lewis spoke to a gathering after testifying before a House Committee considering gun legislation.
“We are going to let them know that we are sick and tired of being penalized for Baltimore City's inability to control crime,” Lewis says in the video.
WBOC spoke with Sheriff Lewis on Tuesday, who says he's sticking with his guns.
“Our citizens deserve to be protected,” Lewis said.
Somerset County Sheriff Ronnie Howard joined Lewis in Annapolis and says he also does not plan on enforcing the bill even if it passes. Howard agrees with Lewis that the gun control measure is unconstitutional and says guns can provide safety for people in remote areas.
“It would be very dangerous for someone to turn in their weapon, living in a very remote area and someone else trying to break into their house. I can't. I'm not. They need it for protection,” Howard said.
But Sheriff Lewis' statements are triggering concerns for activists like Jamaad Gould of the Maryland Progressive Caucus. Gould argues Sheriff Lewis is failing to do his job as an elected leader.
“How do you expect to garner the respect of the community and the trust of the community when you're saying we're above you guys, we're not abiding by the same laws that we're going to force you to abide by? That's an issue all the way around,” Gould said. “In my personal opinion, he should resign.”
But Sheriff Lewis says he's not backing down.
“I will stand up against it,” Lewis said.
This same sheriff gave the Obama amind a succint warning about