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Johns Hopkins Study Recommending Tighter Gun Control Fires Up Debate

BALTIMORE (WJZ)-- A new study from Johns Hopkins researchers suggests tightening gun control policies could save lives, but it reignites debate and fierce criticism from gun rights advocates.

Derek Valcourt has more on the report and reaction to it.

It's a topic most politicians wouldn't touch with a 10-foot pole, especially in an election year. But Hopkins researchers insist it's still a conversation worth having.

Mass shootings like the one in the Aurora, Colo. movie theater often reignite the gun control debate. And this new report from researchers at the Bloomberg School of Public Health suggests changes can be made to gun control policies that could save lives without restricting gun owners rights.

"Those policies designed to keep guns from dangerous individuals have very strong support among gun owners and that is sort of where we can make progress," Daniel Webster, director of the Center for Gun Policy and Research, said.

Webster is the lead researcher in the study which recommends limiting the ammunition capacity of weapons, prohibiting alcoholics from owning firearms, closing what some call loopholes that don't require background checks on private gun sales and limiting gun sales to those over the age of 21.

Maryland already curtails the sale of guns to those under 21, and so do a handful of other states.

"I think a lot of people probably wouldn't be comfortable with someone who can't legally drink a beer being able to possess handguns," Webster said.

But many gun rights advocates dismiss the study, arguing identifying dangerous criminals and keeping them locked up should be the priority, and not tightening gun laws.

"Essentially, what we are looking at is the same recycled tired arguments over and over again," Patrick Schomo of the voluntary gun rights advocacy group Maryland Shall Issue said. "Inanimate objects do not cause violent behavior. Violent people cause violent behavior. And what Bloomberg and Johns Hopkins and Brady and all these gun control organizations are trying to do is literally restrict a fundamental civil right."

Both sides agree there will likely be little done on control anytime soon. Most polls show Americans evenly split on whether we need more gun control or less.

In 2011, the Brady Campaign To Prevent Gun Violence ranked Maryland seventh in the nation when in comes to laws designed to prevent gun violence.

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