The National Rifle Association's magazine America's 1st Freedom attacks Democratic presidential candidate Martin O'Malley on its first cover focused on the 2016 presidential race. The issue's feature article outlandishly accuses the former Maryland governor of offering “hope and change to convicted killers and criminals,” but the organization's overheated rhetoric is based on unfounded attacks on O'Malley's record.
The September edition of the magazine features a cover characterizing O'Malley, who served as governor of Maryland from 2007 to 2015, as a “menace” to the Second Amendment who has “made a mockery of Maryland's gun rights”:
The NRA's feature attacks O'Malley on two fronts, claiming that he poses a threat to Second Amendment rights and accusing him of taking the side of criminals in Maryland -- even though courts have sided with O'Malley on gun laws and violent crime fell significantly during his tenure as governor.
Angered by O'Malley's strong support for a package of gun safety laws enacted in Maryland in 2013 following the Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre, the NRA claims O'Malley “imposed the most draconian new gun bans anywhere in the country” before offering attacks from the top two members of NRA leadership.
NRA executive vice president Wayne LaPierre is quoted in the article claiming O'Malley “has presided over some of the most spectacular, bloody and brutal failures of 'gun control' in our nation's history,” while NRA top lobbyist Chris Cox suggests O'Malley becoming president could trigger “a fight for the survival of Second Amendment freedom as we know it.”
The NRA also objects to O'Malley's response to the massacre of nine parishioners in a historically African-American Charleston, South Carolina, church in June, sneering that the former Maryland governor acted “decidedly un-presidential” when he wrote an email to supporters declaring he was “pissed” about inaction on gun violence while calling for bans on assault weapons and stronger background checks on gun sales.
Despite the gun group's suggestion O'Malley is jeopardizing the Second Amendment, as the article itself notes, the package of Maryland gun safety laws was upheld by a federal court.
Indeed, according to the United States District Court for the District of Maryland, gun safety laws signed by O'Malley are “constitutional” because they “substantially serve the government's interest in protecting public safety ... without significantly burdening” Second Amendment rights. Furthermore gun safety laws like those signed by O'Malley, including handgun licensing and bans on assault weapons, are routinely upheld as consistent with the Second Amendment by courts.
The second prong of the NRA's attack characterizes O'Malley as weak on crime, arguing, “As governor of Maryland, O'Malley doubled down on some of the same failed crime policies that he had instituted in Baltimore.”
Given this fact, the NRA stretches believability in its crime-related attacks on O'Malley. In one section the NRA nonsensically links O'Malley to a judicial decision that overturned convictions for several murderers (emphasis original): “Moreover, in 2013, a ruling by the Maryland Supreme Court resulted in convicted murderers being released from one end of 'The Free State' to the other, including more than a dozen killers in Baltimore alone. Nonetheless, Gov. O'Malley boasted in a State of the State Address that the Maryland prison population had fallen to the lowest point in decades under his leadership.”
As the head of Maryland's executive branch, O'Malley of course had no control over Maryland's highest court, which is actually called the Court of Appeals, not the Maryland Supreme Court. In any case, the overturned convictions dealt with cases pre-dating 1980 -- when O'Malley would have been 17-years-old -- where judges had instructed juries in a manner that violated the defendant's right to a fair trial.
The NRA concludes its attack on O'Malley's record on crime by claiming that as governor he “was quick to offer hope and change to convicted killers and criminals” and that “he also did his best to take away the last, best hope of innocent, law-abiding citizens to protect themselves from those criminals.”
In one final unhinged attack that ties together claims about O'Malley on gun policy and crime, the NRA riffs on O'Malley's comments on “Black Lives Matter” to argue that “the lives that apparently don't matter to O'Malley are those of law-abiding citizens”:
In June, speaking to the United States Conference of Mayors' annual gathering in San Francisco--where the current mayor of Baltimore, Stephanie Rawlings-Blake, was sworn in as president of the organization--O'Malley said, “One of the sad triumphs of white racism is the degree to which it has succeeded in subconsciously convincing so many of us, black and white, that somehow black lives don't matter.”
In truth, the lives that apparently don't matter to O'Malley are those of law-abiding citizens--no matter what their background.