Trayvon Martin: It could happen here, if court ruling is upheld

March 27, 2012

The tragic slaying of Trayvon Martin in Florida has shown the folly of that state's "stand your ground" self defense law — and similar laws enacted or proposed in a number of other states — which your editorial writer correctly characterizes as providing a "license to kill." However, The Sun neglects to point out that Maryland will move inevitably in the same direction if the recent federal court ruling voiding our sensible handgun permit law is upheld on appeal.

Unquestionably, George Zimmerman could not have been granted a permit by the Maryland State Police and would not be permitted legally to carry a weapon on our streets. In Maryland, Trayvon Martin would be alive today. Under our handgun statute in effect for 40 years, Mr. Zimmerman's prior brushes with the law would disqualify him from receiving a permit, as exhibiting a "propensity to violence and instability." And his participation in a neighborhood watch program would not in Maryland constitute a "good and substantial reason to wear, carry or transport" a weapon outside his home.

The National Rifle Association has proclaimed that "an armed society is a polite society." Second Amendment extremists believe that everyone — regardless of disposition or prior behavior — has an inherent right to carry a gun, whenever and wherever he or she chooses. Responsible citizens grieve for the loss of Trayvon Martin and lament a society where violence is tolerated as a substitute for civility.

Michael A. Pretl, Riverton

The writer served on Maryland's Handgun Permit Review Board from 1994 to 2003.

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