As your readers may be aware, there is a new push in the State Legislature to impose an “assault weapon” ban in Maine. A public hearing on the bill – LD 1579 – took place recently in the Committee on Criminal Justice and Public Safety. The jam-packed hearing room, and the boisterous nature of the proceedings, reflected the heated emotions surrounding this issue.

In testifying against LD 1579 – and in opposition to the gun ban – I made a few points that I think deserve wider exposure as this debate continues. This is particularly important because the groups in favor of the ban are disseminating a great deal of distortions and “mistruths” to frighten and confuse the populace.

First off, the term “assault weapon” is a misnomer. There’s little difference between the weapons restricted under LD 1579 and others that would remain legal, other than cosmetic aspects such as the shape of gun stocks. Second, the National Institute for Justice studied the Clinton gun ban (which expired last year) and concluded that it had no bearing on violent crime. The guns that it banned were used in only two percent of violent crimes and were functionally no different than many other guns.

A second study, by the Congressional Research Service, showed clearly that anti-gun forces will tell bald-faced lies to frighten people. These crusaders will stop at nothing to strip away our Constitutional rights, and they trust their friends in the media will conceal their deception.

Maine is one of the highest gun-owning states, and we are hardly suffering from a wave of folks being gunned down by “assault weapons.” The last thing we need are well-meaning but misguided legislators trying to push their anti-freedom schemes on the rest of us. I certainly did not run for the Legislature to watch as our Second Amendment rights are eviscerated. I will remain active in the fight against LD 1579, and I believe we will defeat this badly flawed legislation.

Rep. Richard Cebra