Stepping in where state legislators have feared to tread two-years running, a Montgomery County councilman is proposing a local bill aimed at keeping firearms away from children. The bill is a virtual clone of a little-publicized law Baltimore's City Council passed in May. Iowa, Connecticut and Virginia also have enacted comparable measures -- all deriving from a 1989 Florida law.
It's encouraging to see local lawmakers in the state's two largest political jurisdictions tackling gun-control measures. That's especially true with state and federal legislators so timorous in dealing with this nation's deadly use of guns.
The Montgomery bill would impose civil fines of up to $500 for anyone leaving a usable gun -- or ammunition -- within easy access of a child 17 or younger. Because enforcement would be difficult, advocates say the bill's real import would be teaching and reinforcing common-sense gun safety. Under the measure, county police would develop material on how to safely store guns and ammunition. It would be disseminated through schools, civic groups and other organizations. Gun shop owners would be required to publicize safety methods and offer trigger locks when they sell weapons. The bill, backed by the nine-member council's seven Democrats, is set for a public hearing next month.