Senate panel rejects assault weapons ban

Federal measure slated to expire in September

April 03, 2004|By Michael Dresser | Michael Dresser,SUN STAFF

A Senate committee killed a proposal to ban assault weapons yesterday, ending all possibility that the General Assembly will put a gun control bill into effect in Maryland before the federal ban expires in September.

The 6-5 vote against the bill in the Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee came as no surprise because Sen. John A. Giannetti Jr., who represented the swing vote on the panel, announced his intent to vote against the proposal weeks ago.

The Prince George's Democrat delivered on his promise yesterday, joining the committee's three Republicans and two conservative Democrats in opposing the bill sponsored by Sen. Robert J. Garagiola.

Before defeating the bill, the committee rejected attempts by Garagiola to amend the bill to narrow the ban to 19 weapons covered by the federal ban, which expires Sept. 13.

The Montgomery County Democrat argued that Maryland should at least continue a ban on such currently prohibited weapons as Israel's Uzi and Russia's AK-47.

"If we don't support this amendment today, this is really our last opportunity," Garagiola said.

But Giannetti said Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. had told him he would veto the bill, even with the amendment.

Voting for the bill were Garagiola, committee Chairman Brian E. Frosh, and Sens. Jennie Forehand of Montgomery County, Ralph M. Hughes of Baltimore and Leo E. Green of Prince George's County. All are Democrats.

In addition to Giannetti, votes opposing the bill were cast by Democratic Sens. Philip C. Jimeno of Anne Arundel County and James Brochin of Baltimore County and Republican Sens. Alex X. Mooney of Frederick County, Nancy Jacobs of Harford County and Larry E. Haines of Carroll County.

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