Taking aim at NRA, not sensible use of firearms (Apr. 4, 2012)

AUGUSTA — State Sen. Cynthia Dill cast one of the lone votes against loosening gun restrictions Tuesday.

Dill, a leading progressive, was one of only a handful of lawmakers voting against LD 1859, a bill that would restrict the ability of government to police the use of firearms during unspecified “emergencies.”

The bill, sponsored by Mike Shaw, D-Standish, mirrors legislation being pushed nationally by the National Rifle Association that slowly makes it impossible for communities to regulate firearms at all, and is the latest in a series of bills the GOP-led Legislature has passed  allowing people to bring guns to work, the State House and state parks.

“I thought we were trying to create jobs, solve our energy problems and rebuild Maine’s crumbling infrastructure,” Dill said. “Instead, we’re spending our time making it easier for people to become vigilantes.”

Dill said she is in favor of responsible gun ownership for hunting and protection of property, but draws the line at supporting the NRA, a divisive group whose endorsement is being sought by at least one other Democratic candidate.

“I support the Second Amendment, but I also believe, as most do, government has a vital role to protect the safety and well-being of its citizens,” Dill said. “The prevalence of guns — particularly the type that are modified to fire multiple rounds and outgun local law enforcement — is a problem in many areas of our country and is fair game for reasonable regulation.”

Dill noted stricter gun control may have prevented Monday’s mass killing at a California college, and she underlined a White House plea from Mexico’s president this week for tighter U.S. gun controls he said would help stem an ongoing gang war in his country.

“We’re talking about unregistered assault rifles, machine guns and other munitions modified to escape regulation,” Dill said, “not the rifles, muskets, handguns and other firearms used by Americans for legitimate uses like protection of property or hunting. I don’t believe every teenager should be allowed to buy an AK-47 semi-automatic assault rifles at a gun show.”

For her colleagues seeking the NRA’s endorsement, Dill had a warning:

“In 2004, the NRA lobbied for the Stand Your Ground law used to justify the killing of an unarmed black youth in Florida. It is lobbying for similar legislation in other states. It stopped the renewal of the Federal Assault Weapons Ban of 1994, ” she said. “It’s a divisive group out of step even with pro-gun Mainers. My campaign will not seek nor accept their support.

“Democrats have a choice. I respect Maine’s hunting culture and respect the Second Amendment, but believe reasonable regulation of assault weapons and other killing-spree type weapons is an appropriate role of government. Protecting the safety and welfare of people and communities is not something we should let the NRA highjack, and I will stand up to the NRA when it promotes policies that are outside the mainstream. Voters should choose a candidate who represents them, not the NRA.”


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