Gun owners and supporters from across Maryland gathered in Annapolis Wednesday to demonstrate for their constitutional right to bear arms.
“The story I want to tell is that this time my people saved the Second Amendment in Maryland,” Pastor Ken Blanchard said. “It's not about guns. It's about freedom.”
They called it a family friendly rally.
“I wear a gun now because several years ago we had a threat made to our children and our family,” Howard County resident Tammy Kelley said.
Maryland Gov. Martin O' Malley introduced his gun control bill to the Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee, citing the tragic murders of young students in Newtown, Conn.
"They are about putting the focus on saving lives with a comprehensive approach that would ban military assault weapons, that would improve school security and would also improve mental services," he said.
Montgomery County Police Department Assistant Chief Russ Hamill attended the hearing.
"We’re not trying to infringe on anybody's rights, just keep the streets safer," he said.
“It's not taking away guns, it's making sure we take care of each other, that we do what is necessary to protect our children, to make sure those who are vulnerable are not killed," Prince George’s County State’s Attorney Angela Alsobrooks.
"We’re not trying to take anyone's guns away, but it's really a safety measure to prevent certain people from possessing firearms," said Ken Phelps of the Episcopal Diocese of Maryland.
The Judicial Proceedings overflow room was overcrowded. Hundreds spilled in to the hallway, with more outside the building trying to get in. There were so many that the committee gave each side four hours to testify. The debate continued into the evening.
If the gun control bill passes in the legislature, there is already a petition campaign to block it from becoming law by sending it to referendum to let Maryland voters decide.