Politics

May 1, 2013

Maine panel rejects 10-round limit for gun magazines

It also rejects a Democratic bill that would have allowed businesses to bar employees from bringing guns to work.

By Michael Shepherd mshepherd@mainetoday.com
State House Bureau

AUGUSTA — A legislative committee rejected two Democratic gun-control proposals Tuesday, with legislators changing their minds on a high-profile bill to establish a 10-round limit for gun magazines.

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A legislative committee rejected two Democratic gun-control proposals on Tuesday: A 10-round limit on gun magazines, and letting businesses bar gun from their premises, if they so desired.

Shawn Patrick Ouellette/Staff Photographer

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The Legislature's Criminal Justice and Public Safety Committee rejected four bills on Tuesday and recommended one -- a bill to allow for the destruction of certain guns used in violent crimes. The bills now go to the full Legislature.

In a 6-5 vote, the committee also rejected a bill that would repeal a Republican-backed law passed in 2011 to allow concealed-handgun permit holders to keep guns in their vehicles at the workplace, regardless of employers' policies.

That bill generated the most debate. Democrats contended that the original bill addressed a nonexistent problem, while Republicans leveled the same criticism at the Democratic effort to overturn the law.

Business groups, including the Maine State Chamber of Commerce and the Retail Association of Maine, testified in support of the bill at a public hearing in early April, saying they want businesses to be able to decide what happens on their private property.

"If you have a business, who's going to control it? That's going to be the debate," Stan Gerzofsky, D-Brunswick, the committee's Senate chair and the bill's sponsor, said Tuesday.

But gun-rights groups, including the Sportsman's Alliance of Maine and the Maine Gun Owners Association, said the bill is needless and would require employees to disarm themselves on their way to work if employers ban firearms from their premises.

"An individual has the right to defend themselves and I do feel that not allowing someone to simply leave their weapon in their vehicle while at work . . . does limit an individual's right to protect themselves," said Rep. Corey Wilson, R-Augusta, a member of the committee.

The magazine-limit proposal, sponsored by Senate President Justin Alfond, D-Portland, would ban sales or transfers of magazines that hold more than 10 rounds. Sen. David Dutremble, D-Biddeford, broke the committee's tie on that proposal last week by voting to recommend passage of the bill.

But on Tuesday, Dutremble said that was a procedural move to ensure that the committee could reconsider it. In a unanimous vote, the committee recommended it not pass.

"The evidence didn't support the proposition," said Rep. Mark Dion, D-Portland, the House chair of the committee.

With just two dissenting votes, from Republicans, the committee recommended passage of bill that requires guns to be forfeited and destroyed if they are used in murder-suicides or other violent acts in which a gun owner dies or is incapacitated.

"To me, this is an easy one to decide on because it affects so few people," said Rep. Jethro Pease, R-Morrill. "We do not need to be fighting to save weapons used in murder-suicide."

Michael Shepherd can be contacted at 370-7652 or at:

mshepherd@mainetoday.com

Twitter: @mikeshepherdme

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