By DAVID SALEH RAUF
ANNAPOLIS (March 17, 2011) A House panel this week killed some of the most controversial firearms proposals facing the General Assembly.
The House Judiciary Committee overwhelmingly voted to squash a pair of identical bills that sought to cut in half the number of bullets a detachable magazine can carry. The panel also voted down a bill that would have given state police broad authority to regulate gun dealers.
Of all the firearms bills being debated this session, the ammunition clip and gun-dealer proposals drew some of the strongest ire from Second Amendment groups.
The House committee's vote to bury the gun bills came as a key lawmaker secured passage of the Senate version of the gun-dealer proposal.
Sen. Brian Frosh, a Montgomery Democrat and an ardent gun-control proponent, successfully shepherded the bill to narrow passage this week in the Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee. It marked the first time in several years that Frosh has been able to advance a gun-control measure out of the committee he chairs.
Frosh also was hopeful that the makeup of his committee, which has four new members, would help to move forward the Senate version of the ammunition clip bill, which he sponsored.
Those plans are all but dashed because of the House committee's action to kill the cross-filed versions of the bills.
"I'll bring them back next year," Frosh said.
Frosh is one of a handful of lawmakers who supported legislation this session to limit the size of ammunition clips to hold no more than 10 rounds. State law currently allows ammunition magazines to hold up to 20 rounds.
The bills, which mirror a federal effort to ban high-capacity ammunition clips, were fashioned in direct response to the January shooting rampage that injured Arizona Rep. Gabrielle Giffords and killed six others.
Opponents labeled the ammo clip bills as an attempt to exploit a tragedy.
"A knee-jerk reaction," Delegate Michael McDermott, a Worcester Republican and a member of the House Judiciary, said of the bills."This is how some of the worst legislation gets crafted."
The ammo clip bills died on 17-2 votes.
The House Judiciary rejected the gun dealer bill by a 16-3 vote.
That bill would have required gun dealers to maintain sales records for all firearms and would have given state police more authority to inspect such records in an attempt to better trace firearms. The bill also would have given state police more power over who gets licensed to sell guns.
The bill's sponsor, Delegate Tom Hucker, D-Montgomery, called the measure a "common sense" proposal that should have been received better by the committee.
"It didn't seek to limit anyone's individual gun rights," Hucker said."It sought to address the problem of irresponsible gun dealers."