Just over seven months to the day of the tragic mass shooting at the headquarters of the Capital Gazette Newspapers, State Senator Sarah Elfreth has filed legislation (Senate Bill 397) that would annually recognize June 28th as Freedom of the Press Day. Elfreth, along with all 46 of her Senate colleagues, shared news of the legislation with constituents in a January 30th social media posting.
Said Elfreth: “My job as your Senator is to fight to keep our communities safe. And while the General Assembly will continue to make progress on commonsense gun safety measures to do just that – from banning 3D printed guns, to closing the loopholes on the transfer of guns, to keeping guns out of the hands of children and those who threaten violence – we must also honor the sacrifice of those in our community who committed their lives to one of our nation’s most fundamental rights: the freedom of the press. Last summer we lost five brave members of The Capital, our journalism community, to senseless gun violence. That’s why I’m honored that all 47 Senators joined me in honoring their memories and life’s work by sponsoring legislation to enshrine June 28th as Freedom of the Press Day.”
The text of the legislation reads as follows:
“WHEREAS, The Founding Fathers of the United States recognized the critical importance of a Free Press to the nation’s democracy through the inclusion of the Right to a Free Press in the First Amendment to the Constitution of the United States of America;
WHEREAS, other nations do not enjoy this right;
WHEREAS, members of the United States Armed Forces have given the ultimate sacrifice to protect this right;
WHEREAS, this right is threatened in the United States and around the world by acts of violence and dangerous, irresponsible rhetoric;
WHEREAS, we honor on this day the loss of the lives of Gerald Fischman, Rob Hiassen, John McNamara, Rebecca Smith, and Wendi Winters of the Capital Gazette, who were murdered conducting work as journalists in Annapolis, Maryland;
WHEREAS, the Annapolis community, Anne Arundel County, the State of Maryland, the United States of America, and citizens of the world mourn the lives lost of these journalists, as well as journalists both domestic and international, who have died in the line of duty.
WHEREAS, The General Assembly of Maryland desires that June 28 to be recognized as Freedom of the Press Day in Maryland to memorialize the lives lost on June 28, 2018 at The Capital Gazette offices and to honor and protect all journalists serving a vital role in our state’s democratic process to inform citizens of the happenings of their governments;
RESOLVED BY THE GENERAL ASSEMBLY OF MARYLAND, does hereby proclaim June 28 as Freedom of the Press Day in the State of Maryland.”
Read across the desk of the Maryland Senate on Thursday, January 31st, Senate Bill 397 was assigned to the Senate Education, Health, and Environmental Affairs Committee. No hearing information is available at this time.