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Coalition of Mainers forms to develop gun control policy

7:58 PM, Feb 6, 2013   |    comments
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AUGUSTA, Maine (NECN) - A new group calling itself  "Coalition for a Safer Maine--No More Newtowns!" has come together in the wake of the tragedy at the Sandy Hook Elementary School.

The coalition, made up of lawmakers, police, physicians and citizens hopes to spread the curb of gun violence by backing new gun control legislation sponsored by  former Sheriff turned lawmaker Mark Dion.

"As a former sheriff, I'm all too familiar with the complex intersection of guns, violence and mental disorders. These issues are incredibly complex and will require our best work," says Dion.

Dion's bill, which has yet to be printed, will call for background checks before private gun sales, ban high capacity magazines, and prevent people who are seriously mental ill from buying guns.

"The actions called for in this bill will not stop firearm injuries in Maine,  but they will make the numbers better," says Bob Mcafee, former President of the American Medical Association  

While responsible gun ownership is the norm in Maine, South Portland Police Chief Ed Googins says more oversight is badly needed.

 "Maine is known around New England as a place where guns can be easily purchased with a background check," says Googins.

But in a state where one in two households has at least one firearm, support for the second amendment is strong. And many Republcians may be unlikely to support any erosion of Mainers' right to bear arms.

"We might find some common ground,  but as Republicans we're more interested in fundamental constitutional rights," says Ken Fredette, House Minority Leader.

And lawmakers will certainly hear from gun owners. 

The Sportsman's Alliance of Maine,  which has around 10,000 members,  says it's signed up 500 new members in the last two weeks and they're mobilizing for a fight.

"This is the single greatest challenge to the second amendment of our lifetime. We've known all along that we're going to face a great challenge," says David Trahan, Sportsman's Alliance of Maine's Executive Director.

  With more than 80 bills both forand against gun control being submitted in this legislative session,  it's clear access to firearms will be a hot topic,  whether substantive change emerges from the Capitol remains to be seen. 


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