The House Judiciary Committee brought God into its debate about gun legislation.

At the meeting, Del. Michael Smigiel, R-Cecil, argued in favor of his bill, which would allow gun permit holders in Delaware, Pennsylvania and Virginia to carry their guns in Maryland. He said that right, the right to the Second Amendment, was an inalienable right and came from God — not from the state.

Del. Michael Smigiel

Del. Michael Smigiel, taken from his Facebook page

“That’s where we differ, I think, it’s in the basic philosophy, of whether or not that right to carry comes from the government and can be controlled by the government or it comes from God,” Smigiel said in response to opposition about his bill.

To which Simmons uttered a rather meeting-altering statement.

“I think that where we really differ is that I presume to be differing with you, not to be differing with God,” Del. Luiz Simmons, D-Montgomery, responded.

Whether Simmons meant his statement a joke or as a way to put Smigiel in his place during their debate about his bill, it certainly set the the tone for Tuesday’s meeting.

Del. Luiz Simmons

Del. Luiz Simmons

Even though he insisted it was a joke, he used it as a way to find the gray area in Smigiel’s arguments by questioning whether gun ownership was solely based on God’s discretion or whether the government also plays a role.

While no tempers erupted during the nearly 3 ½ -hour hearing, there certainly was an undercurrent of tension at the meeting, as shown by Simmons’ and Smigiel’s exchange. Delegates found flaws in both sides’ arguments and spent countless minutes arguing over the tiniest points. And in the end, neither side gave any leeway and no common ground was reached.

“Would you be in favor of the bill if it were to stop the homicides by half?” Smigiel asked the Rev. Madeleine Beard of the Episcopal Diocese of Maryland, the last witness of the day to testify.

Despite speculation about possible outcomes “there is no exception,” in the church’s stance on the issue, Beard replied.

—Abby Rogers