In light of the Newtown, CT shooting, gun control was a topic featured Monday night at an event hosted by the New Deal Cafe in Greenbelt, MD, where nearly 50 people came out for a panel on gun control.
Banning assault weapons, limiting ammunition clip size, putting more officers in schools, allowing trained school employees to carry concealed weapons, enforcing background checks, closing the gun-show loophole, addressing mental health issues and bullying were all matters addressed during the "Reel and Meal" event on reducing gun violence.
A panel of two police officers and two family members of gun violence victims, spoke to the attendees, after they viewed “Living for 32,” a documentary from a survivor's perspective of the 2007 Virginia Tech mass shootings.
Since the Newtown, CT school shooting in December that left 26 dead, the gun control debate has heated up nationwide after President Barack Obama made it a priority for the next Congress.
In Annapolis, legislators are debating Maryland’s strict gun control laws after Gov. Martin O’Malley unveiled a plan this month to ban assault weapons, limit magazine capacity from 20 rounds to 10, and stronger licensing requirements for handgun purchases.
“I wish I could count the number of shootings scenes and homicide scenes I’ve seen in Prince George’s County,” PGPD Police Capt. David Lloyd said. “I can’t count that high and I don’t want to.”
He said he was in favor of having officers in schools, but said there wasn’t enough police officers in Prince George’s County to have one in each school.
“One homicide, one shooting, one robbery is too much,” said Lloyd, the Hyattsville station assistant commander. “We are trying to find ways to make every neighborhood safe.”
Also on the panel was Elizabeth Ross, mother of Marckel Ross, a Prince George’s county student who was shot and killed in September while walking to Central High School.
“That was the worst day of my life, I never could imagine that,” Ross said.
She said she was in favor of tightening gun control laws and adding law enforcement in schools.
“I don’t know too much about guns or how gun shows operate ... but how anyone can get guns—that is ridiculous,” Ross said.
The documentary showed Virginia Tech survivor Colin Goddard going to gun shows and purchasing assault weapons from people walking the sales floor.
“I don’t want anyone else’s family to have to go through what I saw,” Lisa Delity, CeaseFireMaryland board president said after describing how her brother, FBI agent Michael John Miller was killed in DC Police headquarters in 1994.
Delity said she was in favor of tightening background checks. limiting the the number of clips on guns and banning assault weapons.
Capt. Carl Schinner, Greenbelt Police patrol division commander, said 60 percent of homicides in 2011 in the United States were firearms related, citing FBI data.
Of Maryland’s 398 homicides in 2011, 272 were firearms related, according to FBI data, with 262 of those committed by handguns; five, shotguns; three, unknown; and two rifles.
Schinner said the Greenbelt police department uses data to help patrol neighborhoods better, such as when the patrols were adjusted in 2010 because of an increase in robbery.