In 1988 the Maryland legislature passed an innovative law designed to limit the availability of certain types of handguns within the state. Pro-gun forces opposed the law and gathered the requisite number of petitioning signatures to refer the law to a public referendum on election day. The months preceding the referendum saw intense political campaigning over the gun law, with pro-gun forces spending $6.6 million, more money than had ever been spent in a Maryland political campaign. The handgun law was recognized to be a public health issue. This article reviews the activity involved in the passage of the law and the referendum, and discusses the role played by the Johns Hopkins injury prevention faculty in providing information to decision makers.