ANNAPOLIS – Senate opponents of Gov. Parris N. Glendening’s gun-control legislation plan to filibuster as early as Thursday, but they concede the tactic will amount to nothing more than a protest.
“Unless something happens in the debate that I don’t forsee, I don’t see this bill being killed,” said Sen. Timothy R. Ferguson, R-Carroll, a gun-control foe and designated leader of the filibuster.
The purpose, Ferguson said, is to ensure that opponents are heard on the Senate floor.
“The whole idea is to educate the Senate on the provisions of the bill,” said Sen. Philip C. Jimeno, D-Anne Arundel, who will also filibuster.
In addition, opponents plan a battery of amendments for the bill, with no guarantee that any of them will succeed.
The measure reached the Senate floor Wednesday, but serious debate probably won’t begin until Friday, senators said. It could continue into next week.
The bill would limit handgun purchases to one a month, impose waiting periods and background checks on private sales and ban so-called “straw man” purchases in which one person buys a gun on behalf of another.
Ferguson said gun-control foes have enough votes to keep the filibuster alive for at least 24 hours. Backers of the bill would need 32 votes, or two-thirds of the 47-seat chamber, to end it.
One amendment expected from opponents would give citizens a presumptive “right to carry” a handgun, provided they do not have a criminal record or a history of drug use or mental illness. Another would require state police to monitor the effect of the new law on gun crimes.
Other planned amendments won’t be revealed until the floor debate begins.
“I think the bill’s got one major flaw in it,” said Sen. Larry E. Haines, R-Carroll, a gun-control foe. “But I’m not going to disclose it until we get to the floor.”
Glendening has promised Sen. Walter M. Baker, D-Cecil, to veto any bill that is amended to include gun-control provisions more stringent than those already in the bill. But that promise, made in exchange for Baker’s cooperation as chairman of the Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee, does not apply to other amendments, Glendening spokesman Ray Feldmann said. -30-