The Significance of Maryland’s Firearm Safety Bill and Why It Needs to Be Passed
A new version of Maryland’s Firearm Safety Storage Requirements and Youth Suicide Prevention bill became known as “Jaelynn’s Law” a few years back. Despite being a significant proposal, the bill is still stuck in the House Judicial Proceedings Committee. The bill has been in work for nearly a decade now, and most questions around it have been cleared. In 2020, Maryland Senate passed a version of it, but soon the session closed early due to COVID. Now it is waiting to be voted on.
Why Did The Bill Become Affiliated With Jaelynn Willey?
Jaelynn Willey was a 16-year-old girl tragically shot by her former boyfriend in 2018. Jaelynn’s former boyfriend, Austin Rollins, had been stalking and harassing her for a while. On March 20, 2018, he brought his father’s 9 mm Glock handgun to Great Mills High School in St. Mary’s County and fatally shot Jaelynn in the head. After that, he shot himself too and died due to the bullet.
At the time of the shooting, Austin was 17-years-old. Due to Austin’s age, his father did not face any charges for keeping the firearm in a place that was accessible to Austin.
What Are the Current Child Access Prevention Laws, and What Does the Bill Propose?
The child access prevention law in Maryland is only applicable if the minor is 15 years or younger. The punishment for a conviction is a simple misdemeanor charge and a fine of up to $1,000. The bill has proposed that in cases where the guardian has been careless about storing the firearm, the maximum age limit should be 17 years. It also states that the potential fine should be higher and the possibility of jail time for the guardian depending on the consequences. If the firearm is stored poorly, but no one accesses it, the bill states 90 days in jail penalty and a fine of $1000. In a case where minor access the poorly stored firearm and proceeds to harm themselves or others, the bill states up to three years in jail and a fine of $5000.
Importance of This Bill
According to Attorney Oleg Fastovsky “It is a tough decision to make to charge an already grieving parent. Parents are generally careful with firearms, but the addition of jail time and a higher fine can reduce the cases we are seeing. It will help ensure that people who are not as careful will now become more attentive to how they store firearms. Nobody should lose a child due to their own or someone else’s negligence, and if new laws fix this, then that should be done.”
Studies have shown that such laws help decrease suicide and unintentional gun deaths by 54%. This is an essential statistic as an increase in suicides has been noted recently. The Centers for Disease Control observed a 22% rise in suicide attempts in children between 12 to 17 during the summer of 2019-2020.
The bill would also require the Deputy Secretary for Public Health Services to develop and release a publicly available guide to encourage practices to store firearms safely and prevent suicide in youths.
If this bill gets approved, Maryland will join states like California and Massachusetts that also have jail time as a punishment for cases where a guardian fails to comply with the state’s laws regarding the safe storage of firearms.
Lately, the House Judiciary Committee members have had their hands full as they focus on passing an impactful “ghost gun” bill through this session. This bill will prevent the proliferation of untraceable weapons. However, they should not have to choose between these two bills and should work to pass both bills before any more innocent lives are lost.
Car Accidents in Florida: Causes, Impacts, and Prevention
Car accidents are an unfortunate reality of modern life, and Florida is no exception. With its thriving tourism industry, ever-growing population, volatile climate, and diverse wildlife, the Sunshine State sees its fair share of traffic accidents. The causes of these accidents are varied, but they often include factors such as human error, adverse weather conditions, and infrastructure issues. The impacts are significant, with many accidents resulting in fatalities or long-lasting injuries and consequences for those involved. However, there are various measures that can be taken to reduce the frequency and severity of car accidents in Florida.
Causes of Car Accidents in Florida
The most common cause of car accidents in Florida is human error. This encompasses a range of behaviors, including speeding, driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs, and distracted driving due to texting or using electronic devices. Additionally, aggressive driving and road rage contribute to many accidents, as they lead to poor, rushed decisions and often loss of control.
Florida’s climate is known to create hazardous driving conditions. Heavy rain, fog, and even hurricanes can reduce visibility and make roads slick, increasing the likelihood of accidents. Extreme heat can also cause tire blowouts, which can cause serious accidents.
As Florida continues to grow and develop, there is a strain on its infrastructure. Poorly designed or maintained roads, lack of proper signage, and insufficient traffic control measures contribute to the prevalence of car accidents in the state.
Impacts of Car Accidents in Florida
According to the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles, over 3,400 people lost their lives in traffic accidents in the state in 2022. The loss of life is a devastating consequence of Florida’s car accidents, impacting families and communities with immeasurable effects.
Car accidents resulted in almost 250,000 injuries in Florida in 2022, from minor cuts and bruises to severe trauma, such as spinal cord injuries, traumatic brain injuries, and permanent disabilities. These injuries can have a lasting impact on the lives of the victims, their families, and their ability to work and live a normal life.
The financial burden of car accidents in Florida is substantial. Costs include medical expenses, property damage, and lost productivity due to injuries or death…and total in the billions each year. Moreover, traffic congestion resulting from accidents leads to additional economic costs in terms of lost time and increased fuel consumption.
Emotional and Psychological Consequences
The aftermath of a car accident can be traumatic for those involved, leading to emotional and psychological distress, such as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), anxiety, and depression, among other mental health concerns.
Prevention of Car Accidents in Florida
Education and Awareness
Increasing public awareness about the dangers of risky driving behaviors, such as speeding, distracted driving, and driving under the influence, can help reduce the number of accidents. Driver education programs and public safety campaigns play a vital role in promoting safe driving habits. For example, Florida launched a campaign in 2022 to educate the public about the dangers of distracted driving.
Investing in better road design, signage, and traffic control measures can help reduce the likelihood of accidents. This includes the development of pedestrian and bicycle-friendly infrastructure, which can help alleviate congestion and promote alternative modes of transportation. Florida’s governor, Ron DeSantis, has recently announced a $7B infrastructure improvement plan for the state focused on relieving congestion in high-traffic areas.
Traffic Law Enforcement
Strict enforcement of traffic laws and regulations can deter dangerous driving behaviors. Increased police presence, coupled with the use of technologies such as speed cameras, can help reduce speeding and other reckless behaviors on Florida’s roads.
As technology continues to develop, advancements in vehicle safety features and collision avoidance systems can contribute to reducing car accidents, says Brian Esposito, a tampa car accident lawyer. Features such as automatic emergency braking, lane departure warnings, and the adaptive cruise control can help drivers avoid potential accidents by detecting and responding to hazardous situations.
Implementing or updating legislation that addresses the causes of car accidents, such as texting while driving and driving under the influence, could help deter these dangerous behaviors. Stricter penalties and fines for offenders, along with increased awareness campaigns, would likely lead to fewer car accidents in Florida.
Encouraging community involvement in local road safety initiatives can lead to a better understanding of the specific issues facing individual communities. By collaborating with local government and law enforcement agencies, residents can work together to address the unique challenges of their area and develop targeted strategies to reduce car accidents.
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