Schaefer urges ban on assault guns


WASHINGTON -- Gov. William Donald Schaefer today urged his fellow governors to adopt laws banning assault weapons and to urge Congress to do the same.

"These assault weapons threaten the safety of all our citizens. Our police are often confronted by criminals who are armed with assault weapons that have greater firepower than their service revolvers," Schaefer said in a statement to a National Governors' Association conference here.

Schaefer told the governors he has proposed a state law to prohibit the sale, transfer or transport of assault weapons, such as AK-47s and Uzis, in Maryland after July 1, 1991. Any individual who currently owns an assault weapon would have to apply for a permit to keep it.

A handful of other states are considering or have adopted such laws. Schaefer said individual state efforts "will have only limited success unless there is a broader effort among all states and at the national level."

The formal resolution Schaefer introduced at the conference would have the association urge Congress "to prohibit the manufacture, importation, sale, transfer, and possession of assault weapons."

Such a bill has been introduced in Congress, but the Bush administration opposes a ban on domestic sales and manufacturing.

Schaefer's resolution will be taken up by a committee of the association for presentation to the governors at their meeting in August. He asked if the group would like to vote on it immediately, but there was little support for that and he didn't press the issue.

New Jersey Gov. James Florio, a Democrat, commended the resolution and said his state just enacted "the strongest" such law in the nation.

Schaefer told reporters he expects governors from states with urban populations will support the resolution.

"These assault weapons were designed for the military," Schaefer said. "They were designed for combat. They are not a sporting weapon. They have only one purpose -- to kill people."

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