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Schaefer targets future sales of assault weapons Current gun owners would be unaffected by legislation


ANNAPOLIS -- After Arnold Schwarzenegger was blown away and blown up in the original "Terminator" movie, the sequel upped the ante by introducing two Terminators, a mean one and a nice one.

Gov. William Donald Schaefer wants to ban military-style weapons in similar fashion, proposing legislation that's tougher than 1991's failed effort but kinder to current gun owners.

The new proposal would expand last year's list of 39 assault weapons to almost 50 and create mandatory prison sentences for using the guns in felonies.

However, it drops permit requirements, so current owners would not have to register their guns and pay $100 fees.

"There isn't any question why -- it's the right thing to do," the governor said at a news conference yesterday, accompanied by James S. Brady, the presidential press secretary wounded in the attempt on Ronald Reagan's life in 1981.

Mr. Brady, who suffered permanent brain damage, read from a prepared statement in his slightly slurred speech: "Eleven years ago, I was at another press event with another political leader. Just afterwards we were both shot with a small-caliber, low-capacity handgun.

"Just imagine. If John Hinckley had an Uzi or a TEC-9 assault pistol with a 36-round magazine, I don't think that I would be around today."

Even if Mr. Schaefer's legislation were to pass, Uzis, TEC-9s and other military-style weapons would be around. More than 1,000 semiauto

matic weapons were sold in the state last year, Attorney General J. Joseph Curran Jr. estimated, and any gun purchased before the law went into effect would be legal.

But the law would ban the future sale, transfer, purchase and receipt of such weapons, said David S. Iannucci, the governor's chief lobbyist. Owners could sell the weapons only to licensed gun dealers, who would only be allowed to sell the guns out of state. But private owners could not make such sales, Mr. Iannucci said.

Last year, the bill passed the House of Delegates but was killed in the Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee chaired by Sen. Walter M. Baker, D-Cecil.

Mr. Schaefer said he talked to Mr. Baker last summer, and "I think we'll have a better hearing this year."

The senator said he was not familiar with the administration's proposal but would consider supporting it if the governor was willing to tie it to his crime proposals.

Mr. Baker has a package of legislation that would speed up the death penalty process in the state, which has not executed a prisoner since the law was reinstated in 1978.

House Majority Leader D. Bruce Poole, D-Washington, said the main fight in the House may be over toughening the bill, although he said he expected those attempts would be defeated.

"The debate may revolve around which guns make the list and which don't," Mr. Poole said.

Bob McMurray of the Maryland State Rifle and Pistol Association said that taking the permit language out was not enough to win the support of his group.

"We'll defeat it again this year," he predicted. "They just want to ban guns, all guns, one at a time."

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