Senate panel likely to shoot down gun ban

January 20, 1993|By Marina Sarris | Marina Sarris,Staff Writer Staff writer John W. Frece contributed to this article.

The third time is supposed to be the charm, but probably not for the governor's bill banning military-style assault weapons.

Gov. William Donald Schaefer is seeking to ban the sale of only 15 rapid-firing assault pistols this year, a fraction of the number he wanted to outlaw in 1991 and 1992. Still, the ban will meet its death for a third time in a state Senate committee, its chairman predicted yesterday.

A majority of the 11-member Judicial Proceedings Committee opposes the bill, said Chairman Walter M. Baker, a conservative Cecil County Democrat who has been the governor's nemesis on gun control.

"There are six solid votes against it," not including the two newest members of the committee, Senator Baker said. At least one of the newcomers appears likely to vote against the ban, too.

Mr. Schaefer tried to make this year's bill more palatable to gun enthusiasts by focusing on just 15 easily concealed semiautomatic pistols. The previous two bills would have banned more than twice that number of weapons, including assault rifles.

The 1993 ban list includes the MAC 10 and MAC 11 pistols, one of which was used to kill two tellers and seriously wound two other employees in the Oct. 26 robbery of a Farmers Bank in Randallstown. Two masked men entered the bank, herded four female employees into the vault and shot them all with a MAC 11 pistol. Dorothy Juanita Langmead, 44, and Anastasia "Stacy" George, 51, died.

"Assault weapons have no place in our society because they're used for war," said Vincent DeMarco, executive director of Marylanders Against Handgun Abuse.

The assault pistol used in the Randallstown murders did not come from Maryland, a fact that gun enthusiasts are likely to exploit. That pistol came from a gun store in Virginia, Baltimore County police said.

Bob McMurray, vice president of the Maryland State Rifle and Pistol Association, said a gun ban will not stop criminals from buying guns, just as drug laws have not stopped people from purchasing cocaine. "Everything about cocaine is illegal, and you and I know it's everywhere," he said.

Mr. McMurray said his group opposes the banning of any gun because it could lead to greater regulation of firearms. "No more gun laws," he said. "We've got so many laws in Maryland about guns that no one can keep up with them."

Supporters of the ban say this year's bill targets the deadliest guns used by criminals.

Assault rifles were dropped from the list after sportsmen argued last year that they use the rifles for hunting and shooting competitions. Although conceding to their arguments, the governor still believes assault rifles do not serve any legitimate purpose, said Mr. Schaefer's chief lobbyist, David S. Iannucci.

Mr. DeMarco's group surveyed local police departments and found that officers in Baltimore confiscated 81 assault weapons in 1991, 52 of which were pistols. Nine of the pistols were used to kill or injure people, he said.

Police in Prince George's County confiscated 37 assault pistols from 1989 to 1991, nine of which were involved in shootings, Mr. DeMarco said.

State police could not provide statistics yesterday on how many assault pistols on the ban list had been confiscated in 1992.

Supporters of the ban lost two legislative friends during a reshuffling of committee assignments this year.

Baltimore County Democrat Janice Piccinini and Montgomery County Republican Howard A. Denis were moved off Senator Baker's committee. They have been replaced by two Baltimore County senators, Republican F. Vernon Boozer and Democrat Nancy L. Murphy. At least one of them may vote against the ban.

"I'm not normally for gun control," Senator Murphy said yesterday, because those laws "only control law-abiding citizens."

Senator Boozer has been shifted by legislative redistricting into a more rural, conservative district that stretches north to the Pennsylvania border. As a result, he concedes, he is by no means an automatic vote in favor of such legislation.

"I want to listen to the testimony," he said. "In my old district, there is no question, a lot of people favor it.

But those in my new district may feel differently. I want to give it a fair hearing."

PISTOLS ON LIST

1. AA Arms AP-9

2. Bushmaster

3. Claridge Hi-Tec

4. D Max Industries

5. Encom MK-IV, MP-9, MP-45

6. Heckler and Koch SP-89

7. Holmes MP-83

8. Ingram MAC 10/11, Partisan Avenger and SWD Cobray

9. Intratec TEC-9 (centerfire)

10. P.A.W.S. type pistol

11. Skorpion

12. Spectre Double Action (SILE, F.I.E., Mitchell)

13. Uzi

14. Weaver Arms Nighthawk

15. Wilkinson "Linda" pistol

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