AUGUSTA, Maine (NEWS CENTER) -- State lawmakers from both sides of the aisle took part in a demonstration designed to educate them about firearms before they consider a host of bills targeting gun violence.
Senators and representatives packed a conference room to listen to firearms experts with the Maine Sheriff's Association, and see many different types of weapons up close and personal.
"The Maine Sheriffs recognize that the gun control issue is a big national and statewide issue and we wanted to be part of the process," explained Kennebec County Sheriff Randall Liberty. "In the state of Maine, we have more than fifty firearms instructors working for the sheriff's offices, and we wanted to share that information and that knowledge and that expertise."
Sheriff Liberty says they purposely did not want to take any stance in support or against any proposed legislation during the meeting, but wanted to present an unbiased look at the various types of guns available to help legislators make better informed decisions.
"There is so much rhetoric on this issue, on both sides, that it is time to just calm down a little bit and look at the facts," stated Senator Roger Katz.
"I think we all feel this," he added. "I understand that there are fifty or sixty bills that have been submitted which one way or another deal with gun control issues. So we are going to be asked to make some very tough decisions, and the more we know about how these guns actually work, the better informed we will be, the better decisions we'll make."
Firearms instructors showed off a wide variety of handguns, shotguns,and rifles and explained their intended uses, costs, and caliber while fielding questions.
"There are some high emotions, and there should be," said Cumberland County Sheriff Kevin Joyce. "You know, twenty-six people being killed, twenty six year olds. They should not be put in a situation where they are forced to, or parents are forced to, fear that their kid is going to get gunned down in a school."
But he cautioned legislators about rushing to judgement.
"One size does not fit all. You know, the guns are similar in nature in how they fire. Some look badder than others," he said. "I think everybody looks at the guns, especially the assault weapons, as being fully automatic, and they are not."
"We just want people to be informed when they make that decision," he added.
While the members of the Maine Sheriff's Association did not offer any positions during the meeting, they promised legislators that they would be involved in the law making process and would be available to field questions that may arise as the debate heats up.