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Maryland House Democrats rally in Baltimore for National Day of Action

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Posted at 6:45 PM, Jun 29, 2016
and last updated 2016-06-29 18:45:12-04

It's hard to imagine the terror of staring down the barrel of a gun, yet the trauma is something tens of thousands of people go through across the country each year.

"Bullets flew through the door behind which we were all standing, he then came in and fired some more, holding us hostage in the apartment," Kate Ranta said.

Ranta, her father and 4-year-old son survived that 2012 attack by her husband.  But the lasting effects of a shooting are hard to measure.

"At some point we have to say enough is enough, we really do," U.S. Rep. Elijah Cummings, D-Baltimore, said.

Maryland's House Democrats rallied Wednesday with local gun control advocates and faith leaders to stand-up for action to stop gun violence, saying the mass shooting in Orlando that killed 49 people nearly three weeks ago should be the final straw.

"Moments of silence may make members of Congress feel better about themselves, but they do absolutely nothing to end the gun violence across the country,” U.S. Rep. Chris Van Hollen said.

This time last week, Democrats occupied the House floor in protest for more then 24 hours because Speaker of the House Paul Ryan wouldn't allow a vote on two gun control bills, one that would enhance background checks on gun buyers, and another to keep guns out of the hands of suspected terrorists.  The cameras were turned off and then Congress was dismissed for Fourth of July recess two days early.  Lawmakers streamed their takeover on social media.

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"This was the moment, and this was the issue where it was time to take a stand," U.S. Rep. John Sarbanes said.

"When we're totally shut down we have to do something, and that's what we're doing, we have to stand up for this gun violence issue," U.S. Rep. Dutch Ruppersberger said.

They want the focus to stay on gun reform, calling the proposed legislation "common sense."

"We need to take that moment, that 27-hour period, and turn it into a movement where we make sure that we work every day until we see action," Van Hollen said.

While they battle it out in Washington, the shootings and firearm killings on the streets have become routine here in Baltimore.

"I've seen that bullet traumatize siblings and haunt parents, I’ve seen it destroy their lives,” said Baltimore Health Commissioner Dr. Leana Wen.  “That happens in our communities every day."

From just Monday night until Tuesday afternoon in the city, two men were killed and seven others were hit with bullets, including three teenagers.         

Maryland has some of the toughest gun laws in the country, but the casualty count keeps rising.

"Merely having these bans in place in Maryland is not good enough,” Maryland Attorney General Brian Frosh said.  “The weapons come from across our borders from state's that have laws that make it easy to get assault weapons, easy to get handguns for violent individuals."        

So far this year, 136 people have been killed in Baltimore, while 317 others have been shot and lived.

Police say officers are constantly making arrests for possession of illegal guns, but the charge doesn't have any teeth because it's a misdemeanor.

"700 times Baltimore Police Officers have put themselves in harm’s way to arrest a gun toting criminal on our streets," Baltimore Police Commissioner Kevin Davis said.        

City leaders are taking action, but say federal officials need to hear the outcry, and it's time for laws to crack down on gun violence.

"If you send me patients who are shot, I will treat them, I will put in chest tubes, I will pump in blood,” Wen said.  “But you and your colleagues, you have the ability to prevent the bullets in the first place."

Congress heads back to Washington on July 5.  House Democrats tell ABC2 News the fight to pass legislation will remain a top focus.

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