An O’Malley administration official admitted that the Firearm Safety Act of 2013 (SB 281) was not about policy but politics, according to testimony by a retired Maryland State Police commander.
The sweeping gun control law, championed by Governor Martin O’Malley, requires firearms purchasers to be fingerprinted, bans so called “assault weapons,” limits magazines to clips that hold less than 10 rounds, and restricts purchases by the mentally ill.
In a signed affidavit by Captain, Jack McCauley, submitted on behalf of the plaintiffs in Kolbe V. O’Malley, which seeks to overturn the law, the retired MSP officer stated that Shanetta Paskel, Deputy Legislative Officer for Governor O’Malley ordered him not to answer a question posed to him by legislators, telling him the law was “not about policy; it is just votes.”McCauley was the former commander of Licensing Division, which oversees background checks for firearms.
McCauley testified that on March 28, 2013 he appeared before a hearing of the Maryland House Judiciary Committee to answer questions members of the committee had about law, then known as SB 281.
Delegate Mike Smigiel, asked McCauley if the ban on certain firearms and detachable magazines would have an effect on crime.According to McCauley, Paskel stopped him and ordered him not to answer Smigiel’s question.
Shocked that I would not be allowed to respond to a question asked by a member of the General Assembly, especially after being designated for the ostensible purpose of answering those questions at the meeting, I requested an immediate clarification of her directive.Ms. Paskel then reiterated in no uncertain terms, that I was not to respond to the delegate’s question [emphasis mine].
McCauley noted great uproar in the hearing room at the refusal to answer the question, which is corroborated by Smigiel on his blog:
I immediately jumped up from my seat and objected to her interfering with my questioning of the Captain who was there for the very purpose of answering our questions so we could proceed out of an informed position and not out of ignorance. I told the Attorney she had no authority to interfere with the Commander’s 1st Amendment rights when I am trying to protect our 2nd Amendment rights.
I again directed my questions to the Captain, who had those I believed to be other officers to either side of him. Again, the Attorney butted in to direct the officer to not answer my questions. I began to yell at this point that this was bull, I complained that the executive branch was interfering with the legislative branch’s ability to set public policy. I promised Ms. Paskel that I would tell what she had done. I was very hot and very loud at that point because it was clear that the advocates had just went from ignorance to evil being the driving force behind an unconstitutional law which amounted to an illegal infringement on a Constitutional Right for the purposes of political gain. At that point everyone was very uncomfortable and the meeting broke up.
“However,” McCauley testified, “I determined that Ms. Paskel was, in that capacity, my superior and I obeyed a direct order from an agent of Governor O’Malley’s office.
Had he been able to answer McCauley said he would have told the committee that SB 281 would have no effect on crime in Maryland, that banned weapons were almost never used in crimes in the state, it would have no impact on mass shootings, and that those wishing to acquire a magazine with a capacity greater than ten rounds would purchase one out-of-state, rendering the ban ineffective, except to restrict the choices of firearms and magazines by law-abiding citizens.
After the hearing ended, according to McCauley, is when Paskel explained to him in a hallway outside the hearing room, the reason she ordered him not to answer the question because the bill was it was “not about policy; it is just votes.”
McCauley inferred from her that the O’Malley administration was pushing the bill “solely to garner political favor” and that they law would have no effect on crime and mass shootings or “didn’t care.”
McCauley finished his testimony stating that he believed Paskel’s statement was an extension of the O’Malley administration’s treatment of firearms issues.McCauley stated that during his time with the MSP Gang Enforcement and Firearms Enforcement units he was involved in the seizure of a number of firearms not involved in crime, and very few of which were banned by the law.“Emphasis was placed,” McCauley said, “on the seizure of these firearms as the Office of the Governor wished to focus solely upon the firearms seized, and not decreasing crime.”