Shriver claim of role in gun bill disputed

Mailing asserting he led push untrue, critics say

Election 2002

July 02, 2002|By Michael Dresser | Michael Dresser,SUN STAFF

Supporters of a rival candidate in the 8th District congressional race accused state Del. Mark K. Shriver yesterday of misstating his legislative record by claiming a leadership role in the effort to pass Maryland's landmark gun safety bill two years ago.

The real leader, according to a well-known gun safety advocate, was state Sen. Christopher Van Hollen Jr., one of Shriver's opponents in the hard-fought primary for the Democratic nomination to face Republican Rep. Constance A. Morella in November.

Van Hollen partisans were circulating a Shriver mailing in which the two-term delegate, a member of the extended Kennedy family, said too many families have been affected by gun violence.

FOR THE RECORD - An article in yesterday's editions incorrectly identified Carole Price as president of Marylanders Against Handgun Abuse. Price is a former president of the group. The Sun regrets the error.

"That's why I led the fight for mandatory trigger locks to protect our children," the Shriver mailing says.

Van Hollen's campaign sent out a news release noting media coverage from the 2000 General Assembly session identifying Van Hollen as Gov. Parris N. Glendening's point man in the struggle to get the measure through the Senate.

During that session, Van Hollen took on the role of floor leader for the complex legislation on short notice after it was removed from the jurisdiction of the Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee. He also represented the governor's allies in talks that averted a filibuster.

Van Hollen's handling of the assignment won him public thanks from Glendening and the gratitude of many gun control advocates.

The bill, among other things, requires all handguns sold in Maryland to come equipped with built-in trigger locks as of next year.

Carole Price, president of Marylanders Against Handgun Abuse, said Shriver's claim of leadership in the trigger lock fight was "untrue."

"Mark Shriver cast a `yes' vote for this important legislation, but he did not play a role in the considerable legislative battle to pass the trigger lock legislation in the state of Maryland," Price said in a statement circulated by the Van Hollen campaign.

Shriver, who lost two uncles, John F. and Robert F. Kennedy, to gun violence, said he has an 18-year track record of working to takes guns off the streets. He noted that he was a co-sponsor - one of 29 - of the House version of Glendening's gun safety bill.

"I take a back seat to no one on this issue," he said. "This isn't politics to me. It's personal."

Van Hollen and Shriver are competing in a Democratic field that also includes former trade negotiator Ira Shapiro and lawyer Deborah Vollmer.

The suburban Washington district is receiving national attention because redistricting may have made it tougher for the popular Morella to hold her seat at a time when Democrats need to pick up six seats to gain control of the House of Representatives.

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