Decision about petition drive on gun control up in the air

By Becca Heller

Del. Neil Parrott

Del. Neil Parrott at Board of Elections. (June 2011)

Following the controversial passage of the Firearms Safety Act of 2013, many Marylanders in opposition to the law may be wondering: what next?

Republican delegates have not yet come together with a unified response. However, rumors of a referendum petition are moving fast.

Leading up to the vote, Republicans had no illusions about their chances of killing this bill. Even before the final decision was made, Del. Pat McDonough, R-Baltimore County, admitted that the opposition to the bill was too weak to fight it.

“This gun fight is over,” McDonough said. “Now we’re moving on to the petition fight. Now it’s up to the people.”

If pursued, the referendum petition could potentially stop enforcement of the bill for 17 months and place it on next year’s ballot to be voted on directly by the people. In order to make this happen, though, Second Amendment defenders would need to collect 56,000 signatures by June 30.

Petition organizers seeking input on which topics to pursue

According to Del. Neil Parrott, chairman of online petition website, it is not certain that Republicans will push to petition the gun bill to referendum.

Parrott has reached out to conservative Marylanders with a survey consisting of eight controversial bills that passed in session despite firm opposition from the Republican party. The issues include: the suppression of referendums, the gun bill, the death penalty repeal, the requirement for teachers to pay union fees, legislation providing illegal aliens with drivers licenses, same-day voter registration, offshore wind, and the implementation of Obamacare.

Parrott says any referendum petition initiative would be based on the results of the poll.

“The conversation needs to be: what do people feel passionately about? What are they willing to fund? And then: what other groups can help?” said Parrott.  “Because it’s not just the referendum petition but it’s also about the campaign on election day.”

NRA could be involved in petition

When asked whether he expected to receive funding from the National Rifle Association on a petition of the gun bill, Parrott left things open-ended.

“None of that has happened at this point,” he said, adding that he had not been in communication with the NRA “yet.”

Re-emphasizing the uncertainty of the gun bill petition, Parrott asserted that it was possible there may be no referendum petition in 2013.

“You know, one of the options is not to petition at all this year,” said Parrott.

Results from the poll are expected back in about a week, revealing the 2013 bills that Marylanders are most invested in fighting. You can take the poll here.

About The Author

Len Lazarick

Len Lazarick was the founding editor and publisher of and is currently the president of its nonprofit corporation and chairman of its board He was formerly the State House bureau chief of the daily Baltimore Examiner from its start in April 2006 to its demise in February 2009. He was a copy editor on the national desk of the Washington Post for eight years before that, and has spent decades covering Maryland politics and government.


  1. soutmezguine

    Where do I sign the petition I would love to vote on all the issues listed not just the unconstitutional gun ban.

    • lenlazarick

      There’s no petition yet. There’s a link to a survey at the bottom of the story to see if they’ll even do it.

  2. abby_adams

    How ironic, fingerprints to purchase a handgun yet illegals can get a driver’s license without giving up their fingerprints. Both can be deadly when in the wrong hands.

  3. Dukehoopsfan

    Where do I sign up?