Maryland task force on guns to hear public comment

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FILE – In this June 28, 2018 file photo, police secure the scene of a shooting at the building housing The Capital Gazette newspaper in Annapolis, Md. A county task force in Maryland that is studying ways to reduce gun violence in the wake of the 2018 killing of five employees at the local newspaper is scheduled to hear public comment for the first time. The Anne Arundel County Gun Violence Prevention Task Force is meeting Thursday evening, Aug. 15, 2019, in Annapolis, Md. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh, File)

ANNAPOLIS, Md. (AP) — A county task force in Maryland that is studying ways to reduce gun violence is scheduled to hear public comment for the first time — days after a fake Facebook page that ridiculed task force members prompted the county’s chief executive to denounce “bullying or intimidation by extremists.”

The Anne Arundel County Gun Violence Prevention Task Force is meeting Thursday evening in Annapolis, Maryland.

The meeting comes days after Anne Arundel County Executive Steuart Pittman issued a statement in response to a fake Facebook page for the task force in which task force members were ridiculed. The page was recently taken down.

“We will not sacrifice public safety to appease a small minority of extremists whose selfish desire to avoid the paperwork burden of gun registration and background checks is cloaked in concepts that are the foundation of this great country,” Pittman wrote.

Pittman created the task force in April. Less than a year earlier, five people were killed in a mass shooting at the local newspaper, the Capital Gazette.
The task force has been researching gun violence and suicide involving guns. It is charged with making recommendations about how to reduce gun violence in the county. It is scheduled to submit a report of recommendations in December.

Andrea Chamblee, whose husband John McNamara was one of the victims in the Capital Gazette massacre, is a member of the task force and was one of the members who was written about on the Facebook page.

Dawn Stoltzfus, a task force member who also is a volunteer for Moms Demand Action, said about a dozen people have come to recent meetings. Those in attendance have been split between supporters of tighter gun laws and advocates for gun rights, she said.

The public comment period Thursday evening will be limited to eight people, and they will receive two minutes to speak. A future task force meeting will be devoted entirely to public comment, but that meeting has not been scheduled yet.

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