Schaefer hints at effort to ban assault weapons in Maryland


ANNAPOLIS -- Gov. William Donald Schaefer said yesterday that he may lend his considerable clout to an effort to make Maryland the third state in the nation to ban military-style assault weapons.

"I may make some suggestion on gun control, may go for assault weapons," the governor said. While he did not describe the new restrictions he might favor, he said he was looking at legislation being drafted by Delegate Peter Franchot, D-Montgomery.

Mr. Franchot said later that his bill would ban the sale of about 60 models of assault rifles that can now only be purchased in Maryland after a seven-day waiting period.

The assault rifle ban coupled with the state's Handgun Roster Board, Mr. Franchot said, would give Maryland "the most significant gun-control laws in the country. And it would further enhance Governor Schaefer's reputation as the No. 1 political leader on this issue."

New Jersey and California already have similar bans on assault weapons, the legislator said.

Bob McMurray, a spokesman for the Maryland State Rifle and Pistol Association, said he was "not surprised" by the governor's comment.

"I think Schaefer is making good on his threat to punish gun owners in Maryland in response to Fred Griiser's primary candidacy against him," Mr. McMurray said.

Mr. Griiser helped lead an unsuccessful fight against establishment of the state's Handgun Roster Board -- which has banned the sale of some handguns -- in 1988.

Last summer, Mr. Griiser ran a shoestring campaign against the governor in the Democratic primary. He drew 100,816 votes to the governor's 358,534.

Retribution "has got absolutely nothing to do with it," said Paul E. Schurick, the governor's press secretary. "It's got everything to do with unnecessary deaths and the availability of certain kinds of weapons."

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