Sunday, March 9, 2014
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"We can get this job done if we respect each other and put aside the rhetoric to focus on the important things," he told the committee. "We must respect those who demand more gun restrictions, and they must respect us."
Smith said the compromise could win passage if packaged in a single bill.
Gun control advocates and law enforcement officials have long argued that Maine and other states with unregulated private gun sales are an easy source of weapons for criminals or mentally unstable people who couldn't get a gun from a licensed dealer.
Sen. Gary Plummer, R-Windham, the ranking Republican on the committee, said it's too early to talk about any deal. When asked about Smith's proposal, however, Plummer replied, "I think it has potential for working."
But advocates on both sides downplayed the suggestion.
Overturning the concealed-weapons permit law is too much of a price to pay for modest gun control legislation, said Harwood, of Maine Citizens Against Handgun Violence.
"Why do we have to make a gesture to the gun lobby just to get good common-sense legislation passed?" he asked.
David Trahan, executive director of the Sportsman's Alliance of Maine since he took over from Smith in 2011, said Smith has never spoken to him or the group's executive board about his proposal.
"George Smith is not the executive director of SAM," Trahan said. "I hope people don't get confused. He is not speaking for us."
Thursday's hearing also featured some heated comments.
James Robert Lynch II, 24, of Lewiston, who said he carries his 9 mm pistol openly in public, told lawmakers that the issue is about protecting fundamental rights.
"Anyone on this committee who doesn't support L.D. 660 is a traitor to his or her country who should be thrown in prison for treason or receive the death penalty for this crime," he said.
Guns are not allowed in the State House, and the Legislature had additional security staff monitoring the hearing Thursday.
The committee will discuss the bill again at a workshop on May 1.
Tom Bell can be contacted at 791-6369 or at: