Gov. Martin O'Malley on Thursday signed a gun-control bill that is among the country's most sweeping legislative responses to the December mass shooting in Newtown, Conn.
The law bans the sale of assault-style rifles, including the AR-15 used in the Newtown killing of six educators and 20 first- and second-graders. The law limits gun ownership for people with mental illness, outlaws the sale of high-capacity magazines and establishes the nation's first new handgun licensing scheme in two decades.
The signing is expected to set off both a legal challenge from the National Rifle Association and a public relations campaign from gun-control supporters. A petition drive is underway to stop the law from going into effect on Oct. 1, though it is unclear whether opponents can gather enough signatures in time to trigger an automatic hold on the bill. If they are, the law would go before voters in 2014.