(Josh Hicks, Washington Post)
A Maryland gun-control group began airing radio ads Tuesday criticizing Senate candidate Kathy Szeliga (R) for not supporting fingerprint-based licensing for handgun purchases, something her opponent, Rep. Chris Van Hollen (D), has long promoted.
The commercials from Marylanders to Prevent Gun Violence are scheduled to run during peak commute times through Friday.
Szeliga, a delegate from Baltimore County and Maryland’s House minority whip, is airing her own commercial statewide on Fox News Channel. That ad will run for two weeks.
The gun-control commercial features Cynthia Bruce, a Baltimore mother of four who says she lost her youngest son to gunfire last year while he was “sitting on a neighbor’s front porch in broad daylight.” The case remains unsolved. Bruce says in the ad that 44 other people were killed in the city that same month — and 87 percent had been shot, according to a Baltimore Sun crime database.
“We cannot go on this way,” Bruce says.
A narrator then explains that Szeliga opposed a bill that the state’s Democratic-majority legislature passed in 2013 to require fingerprinting for handgun purchasers, and that Van Hollen has introduced a measure in Congress that would provide financial incentives for other states to adopt similar legislation.
Advocates say such measures help reduce firearm homicides and prevent guns from flowing from states with less-restrictive purchasing guidelines into the hands of criminals in states that have tougher regulations.
Gun-rights advocates contend that such requirements restrict the constitutional right to bear arms while doing little to block criminals from obtaining weapons illegally.
A 2013 Washington Post poll found that Marylanders overwhelmingly supported tougher national gun laws, with 63 percent saying they favored such measures, compared with 34 percent who said they opposed them.
Szeliga met last month with gun-control advocates and family members of shooting victims at a gathering organized by Marylanders to Prevent Gun Violence.
The Republican declined to back stricter gun regulations, but told the group that she supports tougher enforcement of existing laws. Afterward, she touted her willingness to “meet with all Marylanders, whether we agree on every issue or not.”
Szeliga’s television ad accuses Van Hollen of being a Washington insider whose campaign is bankrolled by special-interest groups.
“I have never worked in D.C., and I have way less money,” she says, promising that she would change the culture in Washington if elected in November.
Van Hollen’s campaign has not run campaign ads since the Democratic primary.
A Goucher College poll last month showed the congressman far ahead of Szeliga in the Senate race, with 55 percent of likely Maryland voters planning to cast their ballots for him, compared with 26 percent for his opponent.