Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley today signed a bill banning the sale of assault weapons, limiting magazines to 10 bullets, requiring handgun purchasers to submit fingerprints and get a license, and creating penalties for people who don’t notify police when their firearms are lost or stolen. The Baltimore Sun reports that gun control advocates are now planning Baltimore-area TV ads to bolster support among Maryland voters, in case of a future referendum or campaigns to oust lawmakers who backed the bill in the General Assembly.
This ad buy begs the question: Could Maryland’s anti-gun control community gather enough support to change course in the state? The NRA’s threats “scared the pants off Congress,” says Donald F. Norris, professor and chair of public policy at UMBC. But, he clarifies, the national stage and state are different matters.
Asked about potential efforts to remove legislators who supported the gun control bill, Norris noted, “Whether that will work in Maryland, I’m not so sure. My gut tells me no. They might be able to knock off a few people, but I think it’s very much a long shot.”
In his latest opinion column for the Baltimore Sun, UMBC political science professor Thomas F. Schaller takes on accusations surrounding the recent U.S. Department of Homeland Security purchase of large quantities of ammunition (up to 1.6 billion rounds in some reports)—including claims that the Obama administration is arming itself while simultaneously trying to disarm the citizenry through gun control legislation.
In researching the purchase, Schaller found:
It turns out the order is closer to 750 million rounds and covers a five-year period and the 70,000 federal officers who require firearm certification or retraining. That’s roughly 2,200 rounds per officer per year; recreational gun users often dispense several hundred rounds during a single firing range visit.
Schaller concludes that this “scandal” is more conspiracy than legitimate critique of government overreach. He suggests that gun advocates would benefit from ignoring such distractions and instead focusing on what he identifies as real examples of government abuse of power, or addressing the risks that can come with gun ownership.
Maryland Lt. Gov. Anthony G. Brown is widely expected to officially announce his candidacy for governor today in his home county of Prince George’s. Donald F. Norris, professor and chair of public policy at UMBC, told the Baltimore Sun that support from current Gov. Martin O’Malley is one of the reasons Brown is the “odds-on favorite” for the job.
“He’s going to have the governor’s endorsement, and he will have access to the governor’s election organization,” Norris said, in an AP story on the anticipated announcement. These factors could give him a notable advantage over potential opponents, such as State Attorney General Doug Gansler.
Access Lens, a research project from Shaun Kane in the Department of Information Systems, was recently covered by Discovery News. This research was presented at the 2013 ACM Conference on Human Factors in Computing (CHI 2013).
Out of Mind, an exhibition curated by 2013 Visual Arts senior, Carlyn Thomas, opened last week in Baltimore’s Gallery 788. Coverage of the exhibition and video of a curatorial talk by Thomas, appeared Sunday in the Baltimore Post-Examiner.
The curatorial project is part of Thomas’ senior thesis as an art history & museum studies student, and continues through the 11th.
Learn more about the project here.
The 2013 Baker Artist Award winners were announced this week, and Jenny O’Grady, Director of Alumni and Development Communications, is one of nine b-grant recipients.
The b-grant Prize is awarded annually to up to nine artists, and recognizes emerging artists and established artists exploring new directions in their work. Read more about the prize and view O’Grady’s work at the Baker Artist Awards website, or view the coverage of the awards’ announcement in the Baltimore Sun.
“The worst kept secret in Maryland is that Martin O’Malley is running for president,” says Donald F. Norris, professor and chair of public policy at UMBC, in a Washington Jewish Week article on O’Malley’s recent visit to Israel and Jordan. He suggests, “One of the important bases that has to be touched is showing you have foreign policy experience. Another is going to Israel. He’s doing a twofer.”
Formally, the 8-day visit was a trade mission; the O’Malley administration notes that in 2012 Israel was Maryland’s 43rd largest trading partner. Twenty Israeli companies already have offices in Maryland and three additional tech will open offices in the state soon.
Norris also this week commented in a Gazette story on a change to Maryland’s GOP leadership with the election of Dels. Nicholaus Kipke (R-Dist. 31) of Pasadena and Kathy Szeliga (R-Dist. 7) of Perry Hall to the positions of minority leader and minority whip. Norris suggests the selection of Kipke, a member of the House Tea Party Caucus, might indicate the Maryland GOP is moving further to the right. This could make GOP candidates less electable in the Democratic-leaning state and, Norris argues, “guarantees the party’s total irrelevance in Maryland.”
Thomas F. Schaller’s latest Baltimore Sun column responds head-on to arguments that the Department of Defense (DoD) should be exempt from sequestration.
Schaller describes several concerns regarding financial waste, fraud and abuse in the DoD, but notes, “The good news is that the sequester, coupled with America’s downsized presence in Iraq and Afghanistan, has actually reduced military spending significantly.”
He writes, “We can have a strong defense, support our troops and veterans, and do so without holding the Pentagon to different standards just because it has the unique and essential duty of defending the nation.”
As the initial shock following last week’s indictment of inmates and correctional officers at the Baltimore City Detention Center gives way to more detailed analysis, the Baltimore Sun is asking what ramifications this case could have on Gov. Martin O’Malley’s future political career.
“It’s a major problem that has to be fixed,” Donald F. Norris, professor and chair of public policy at UMBC, told the Sun, suggesting the debacle’s ultimate political impact will depend on how O’Malley handles it going forward. He noted, “It could tarnish O’Malley. It could also rebound in his favor.”
A film by Joe Tropea ’06 History B.A. and ’08 Historical Studies premiers locally at the Maryland Film Festival next week. The Baltimore Brew covered the film in a May 1 story entitled “A fiery act of civil disobedience in Catonsville still resonates, 45 years later.”
“Hit & Stay’ tells the story of nine Catholic activists who protested the Vietnam War by burning draft files in Catonsville on May 17, 1968. Tropea and fellow filmmaker Skizz Cyzyk tell the story using old footage, recent interviews with surviving members of the group and their supporters, images of war horrors, and the reflections of eminences of the Left such as Howard Zinn, Noam Chomsky, Bill Ayers and Amy Goodman.
Tropea undertook the six-year process of making the documentary after writing on the subject for his masters thesis. “I had had no idea about the amount of strategy and coordination and about how all these things were connected,” he said.
“Hit & Stay” will have two screenings at The Maryland Film Festival. (Tickets available here.)
• Thursday, May 9, 7:30 p.m. at Charles Theatre, 1711 N Charles St.
• Saturday, May 11, 1:30 p.m. at MICA’s Brown Center, 1300 Mount Royal Ave.
The anniversary of the action will also be commemorated with a May 10 event at UMBC, “Looking Forward from the 45th Anniversary of the Catonsville Nine Actions.”