Thursday, April 17, 2014
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Thom Watson of Bath says Maine hunters might be willing to give up high-capacity magazines. "Nobody I know carries them," he said.
Carl D. Walsh/Staff Photographer
Sarah Russell poses Friday with her children, from left, Olivia, 9; Annie, 7; George, 3; and Charles, 5, in Cumberland. Russell supports hunting and gun ownership rights and allows hunting on her property, but she also believes in tighter restrictions on assault weapons and high-capacity magazines.
Gordon Chibroski/Staff Photographer
Bill Diamond, a former lawmaker from Windham who last year stepped down after 18 years in the Legislature, said he doesn't recall any significant gun restrictions that were passed during his tenure.
This year might be different, he said, because the public wants lawmakers to take action in response to the Sandy Hook shootings. But they also want to protect the rights of Mainers to own guns, said Diamond, a Democrat who co-chaired the Criminal Justice and Public Safety Committee from 2005 to 2008.
Diamond said Mainers strongly believe that gun owners have rights, but at the same time they want gun owners to follow rules designed to protect the public. "They believe you can have those rules and still respect the rights of gun owners," he said.
Gun rights advocates in the past have successfully blocked proposed gun restrictions because many Mainers have guns and will vote only for candidates endorsed by gun rights groups, said George Smith, former executive director of the Sportsman's Alliance of Maine.
But the Sandy Hook shootings have changed the political climate, he said, and gun groups are now more willing to consider some new regulations as long as they are part of a comprehensive approach that includes other reforms, such as finding better ways to identify and treat mentally ill people who are violent.
"It's not just about guns," he said. "If all we do is that, we have failed."
Edith Frost, 69, of Oakland, said she has mixed feelings on the issue. She said her father, a farmer, hunted deer to feed his family. At the same time, she said, something needs to be done to stop mass shootings.
"There is a fine line, and I don't know where it is," she said. "On one hand, I don't want to stop people from hunting. It's not just a sport. Men hunt to put food on the table. On the other hand, you've got in Connecticut all those kids killed."
Staff Writer Tom Bell can be contacted at 791-6369 or at:
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Charles Harrison, 73, seen Friday at his farm in Lyman, owns five guns and says there should be no government restrictions on gun ownership. "As far as regulations, what we have now is pretty good," Harrison says.
John Patriquin/Staff Photographer