Schaefer pushes ban on sale of assault weapons He asks support of fellow governors


ANNAPOLIS -- Gov. William Donald Schaefer, meeting with his fellow governors in Seattle, called on them yesterday to urge President Bush's backing for a federal law banning the manufacture, possession and sale of assault weapons.

Joined by Govs. Michael N. Castle of Delaware and James J. Florio of New Jersey, Mr. Schaefer asked colleagues who are attending the National Governors' Association meeting to sign a letter to the president.

"We believe firearms have a legitimate place for security and recreational purposes," the letter said. "However, the danger resulting from the availability and use of assault weapons totally outweighs any conceivable value these weapons may have for law-abiding citizens."

Mr. Schaefer said, "These guns are good for one thing: killing people." While these weapons were not always a problem, the governor said, more than 80,000 of them are sold in the United States every year now.

The proposal, scheduled for discussion in Seattle, was made public by Mr. Schaefer's office in Annapolis.

Representatives of six law enforcement groups endorsed the proposal: the National Sheriffs' Association, the International Association of Chiefs of Police, the National Association of Chiefs of Police, the National Association of Police Organizations, the Fraternal Order of Police and the National Troopers Coalition.

Mr. Schaefer also asked his colleagues in Seattle to join him in opposing cuts in the National Guard.The Department of Defense, he said, has proposed reducing the Guard by 136,000 positions. He called this "a shabby way to say thank you to the men and women of the Army National Guard who played such a critical role in Operation Desert Shield and Desert Storm."

Two Maryland units have been identified for elimination under the Defense Department proposal: the 1729th Maintenance Company in Havre De Grace and the 1229th Transportation Company in Crisfield. If implemented in full, Maryland could lose up to 2,515 of its 7,200 Guard positions.

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