Ehrlich Praises Gun Law for Cops

Article excerpt


BALTIMORE - Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. yesterday initiated a state program to license retired police officers to carry concealed handguns, making Maryland one of the first states to implement new federal laws expanding gun rights for retired and off-duty officers.

"This is good public policy that will make a safer state," said Mr. Ehrlich, a Republican.

Surrounded by officers from various local and state law-enforcement agencies, Mr. Ehrlich made the announcement at the Fraternal Order of Police Lodge No. 3 in Baltimore.

The setting underscored Baltimore's high murder rate despite crime-fighting pledges by Mayor Martin O'Malley, a likely Democratic rival to Mr. Ehrlich in next year's governor's race.

Last week, the FBI reported that violent crime in Baltimore increased 4.2 percent to 11,667 incidents in 2004, while the numbers declined in most other cities.

Mr. O'Malley, who took office five years ago promising to lower the homicide rate, but instead watched the city become one of America's deadliest, was not invited to the announcement.

The mayor yesterday said he was not bothered that the governor held the event in his city. But he said Mr. Ehrlich could do more to reduce crime in the city by reforming state public safety offices such as the departments of juvenile services, parole and probation, and corrections.

"The state and the governor control many of the oars that should be in the water to bring crime under control in Maryland," Mr. O'Malley said. "If we all could work together toward the common goal of making our state safer, we could be making progress more quickly."

Mr. Ehrlich's initiative buttressed the federal Law Enforcement Officers Safety Act, which President Bush signed into law last year. …