ANNAPOLIS — Longtime gun-control advocate Sarah Brady visited Gov. Martin O’Malley and leading Maryland lawmakers on Wednesday to promote a comprehensive measure backed by the governor to fight gun violence.
She is the wife of former White House press secretary Jim Brady, who was left paralyzed in the 1981 assassination attempt on President Ronald Reagan by a mentally ill gunman. The couple heads the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence.
“I think the most important thing is that it needs to be passed in its entirety — and no weakening at all,” Brady said about the gun package during an interview before separate meetings with O’Malley, House Speaker Michael Busch and Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller.
The bill would ban assault weapons and strengthen licensing requirements by requiring handgun owners to be fingerprinted.
The provision requiring fingerprinting is intended to reduce the number of guns purchased by a friend or family member of someone who is not allowed to own a gun. The bill also would increase school security and address mental health issues related to firearms access.
A hearing before the Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee earlier this month drew a huge crowd of opponents who say the measure would erode Second Amendment rights. The panel could vote on the bill as soon as Thursday.
Sarah Brady has promoted gun-control measures in Maryland before. She made the rounds in Annapolis in 1988 when the state banned certain handguns. She said she was optimistic Maryland would be one of the states leading the way in gun-control legislation in the aftermath of the December massacre at an elementary school in Newtown, Conn., where a gunman killed 20 children and six adults before committing suicide.
Brady said she was more hopeful for gun-control measures addressed in state government.
“When the states begin to act, then the federal government follows slowly behind,” Brady said.