ANNAPOLIS -- The House of Delegates today approved a bill that would ban the sale of certain military-style semiautomatic assault weapons in Maryland.
The Schaefer administration bill would outlaw future sales of about three dozen categories of assault weapons, but would allow current owners to keep them.
The bill passed 79-50, a margin similar to last year's House vote on similar legislation. The bill faces an uncertain future in the Senate, where the Judicial Proceedings Committee killed last year's measure.
Proponents, such as Del. Elijah E. Cummings, told their House colleagues today that the bill would help curb random and
Mr. Cummings spoke of attending the funeral of a young man killed in Baltimore by Uzi-toting attackers. He said he learned that the man's friends did not expect to live long themselves because of street violence.
The Baltimore Democrat urged his colleagues to approve the bill and thereby "allow some young men to grow up and become fathers and productive members of society."
Opponents contend it will hurt law-abiding sportsmen and gun owners, while criminals obtain assault weapons illegally.
"We are isolating individual groups of people and the majority is imposing its will on those minority groups," said Del. George W. Owings III, a Calvert County Democrat who owns four guns on the banned list.
Mr. Owings said the bill has a loophole that would allow him to bring an assault weapon into Maryland if it is legally purchased in another state by a resident of that state and given to him as a gift there.
The House also voted 121-13 for another Schaefer administration bill that attempts to limit suburban sprawl.
The bill is a watered-down version of a growth control measure the governor introduced last year.
This year's bill directs counties and cities to revise land-use plans, zoning and development rules to conform with broad principles.
Those principles include concentrating construction in "suitable areas," protecting Chesapeake Bay and environmentally sensitive areas, and conserving resources.
To gain the business community's support, the administration included a concept of streamlining regulations and encouraging growth.