After seeing the CNN poll (about halfway down on the right side - I'm not sure how long it'll last, as it's on an often updated page) asking if the shooting spree in a German school highlighted the need for further gun control (results, as of 10:25pm EST, 3/11/2009, stated 63% yes, and 37% no), I got to thinking. Things have seriously changed for the worst.
I've been living in Maryland since I was four years old (my family moved here in 1979). I'm 33 years old now. Maryland has always been a liberal state, and recently been one of the most gun controlled states in the union. Back in 1983 (or within a year of that), I had my first experience with a firearm - at school - a public elementary school.
It had long been a tradition at the school for staff and faculty to dress up in costumes for Halloween. This particular year, the gym teacher dressed up as a cowboy, complete with two real six-shooters on his hips. He even, during lunch that day, fired blanks into the air. Over the course of the day, he let interested students handle the revolvers, but was always meticulous about ensuring that the cylinders were empty, and that the weapons were safe before allowing any student to handle them. He also made sure to teach and enforce the rules of gun safety to each and every student that wanted to handle the revolvers. As a result, many students learned something they otherwise wouldn't have, and nobody was injured. Being a young child myself, I remember the revolvers seeming HUGE. I still learned a lot about firearms from that gym teacher that day, and as a result have never injured myself or anyone else with any weapon (firearm or otherwise - I'm an avid sword collector, and do not yet own any firearms) since (at least, not without intending injury).
Today, that gym teacher would be in jail for doing the same thing.
The teacher also had an open carry permit, which was far easier to get in Maryland at the time. Tonight, I read the Maryland gun laws again. Here is what Maryland law says about the requirements for an open carry permit (simplified for the layman) Source:
Permit To Carry
Application for a permit to carry a handgun is made to the Secretary of State Police. In addition to the printed application form, the applicant should submit a notarized letter stating the reasons why he is applying for a permit.
The permit may be issued if the Secretary finds that the applicant:
* Is 18 years of age or older.
* Has not been convicted of a felony, or of a crime punishable by imprisonment for more than one year.
* Has not been convicted of a crime involving the possession, use, or distribution of a controlled dangerous substance.
* Is not an alcoholic, addict, or habitual user of a controlled substance.
* Based on the results of an investigation, has not exhibited a propensity for violence or instability.
* Based on the results of an investigation, has demonstrated a "good and substantial reason" to carry a handgun, including a finding that the permit is "necessary as a reasonable precaution against apprehended danger."
It's the last bullet point that is the deal breaker in Maryland. "Good and substantial reason" could be defined as anything, and likely not anything that would allow an average, law-abiding citizen to carry.
Even excluding firearms, it's already illegal to carry any bladed weapon with more than one sharpened edge, more than five inches in blade length. Technically, I'm breaking the law when I carry my 12" Crusader's dagger at historical reenactment events, as it has a 12 inch long, double edged blade (and has never been pulled in anger or aggression, and has never tasted blood). The state of Maryland won't allow me to carry that, which only has an effective danger range of my arm length plus 12 inches. Think of the moronic legislation that disallows the average citizen from carrying a handgun with an effective range of 100 yards (and an accurate range of only 25-50 feet). Open carrying of a rifle or shotgun is completely illegal (with the exception of antique firearms - defined as being built before 1899, which are exempt from all state firearm laws - I suppose they think a Wild West era Colt Peacemaker is less dangerous than a Smith and Wesson 1917 .45 Revolver made in 2008).
Honestly, I oppose all gun legislation because almost all of it makes no sense. Sure, I can understand the government not wanting me to have a live nuclear warhead attached to an ICBM siloed in my back yard, but for fuck's sake, at least define the conventional firearms you want to ban before trying to do so.