A Senate panel unanimously rejected an Anne Arundel lawmaker's proposal Friday that would have made the theft of any firearm a felony.
Sen. Philip C. Jimeno, D-Brooklyn Park, joined other members of the Judicial Proceedings Committee to defeat his own gun theft bill, 11-0. Jimeno said he voted against it in an effort to block Gov. William Donald Schaefer's proposed ban on assault weapons.
By a vote of 7-4, the committee killed the governor's bill, whichwould have banned future sales of 39 assault weapons and required owners to obtain $100 permits. The House Judiciary Committee had approved a similar version of the bill a week earlier.
"Those of us who opposed the governor's bill didn't want to put any vehicle out there that could be amended to include the weapons ban," Jimeno said. "Whenwe are really serious about going after the illegal use of firearms,then my gun theft legislation is the way we'll do it."
Jimeno's bill would have established a mandatory one-year minimum jail term forthe theft of any firearm, including handguns, antique weapons and assault rifles. Judges could have sentenced someone to a maximum of 15 years in jail without parole.
"Most guns used in crimes today are bought through the black market or they are obtained as a result of atheft," Jimeno said. "This was an attempt to stop that."
Sen. Donald F. Munson, R-Washington County, a co-sponsor, said he and Jimeno will bring the bill back next year.
Jimeno opposed the governor's handgun referendum three years ago. But Schaefer contributed heavily to Jimeno's re-election campaign last fall, leading some to believe the Brooklyn Park senator would reverse his position and become the swing vote on the Judicial Proceedings Committee.
Jimeno said he received a number of constituent calls for and against the assault weapon ban.
"I was in a position where if I voted for the (assault weapons) bill, I was a rubber stamp for the governor," he said. "If I voted against it, I was a rubber stamp for the (National Rifle Association)."