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Vote On Gun Control Bill Expect In Maryland House Committees

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After weeks of delay, a vote is expected this afternoon in two Maryland House committees on Gov. Martin O'Malley's gun control bill.

The House Judiciary and Health & Government Operations committees have been working on changes to the bill that passed through the Senate last month mostly intact from what the governor initially proposed. The biggest change the committees are prepared to make deals with the ban on military-style assault weapons — taking some of the guns included in the O'Malley proposal off the list.

Some argue gun ban list is arbitrary

Republican Del. Mike Smigiel is on the Judiciary committee, and says those seeking to ban assault weapons don't understand those guns.

"They are finding things aesthetically to be dangerous. There is something called a "telescoping stock." It simply makes the firearm or rifle extend longer or shorter," Smigiel says. "So you're wife can shoot the same firearm you are. It does nothing to change the velocity, speed, or ability of the firearm."

Smigiel owns several of the guns on the list, including an AR-15, which he says is less powerful in certain caliber than some hunting rifles, which are pretty much untouched by the bill.

"With the .223 caliber, which is the AR-15, you can't even hunt with it. It is not powerful enough to kill a deer. It's a varmint gun. It will not kill a deer," Smigiel says. "So, you have rifles that are not being banned — 30-6, 30-30 — which are hunting rifles which are much more powerful."

The AR-15 was used in the Newtown, Conn., mass shooting.

Gun debate goes beyond caliber

Montgomery County Democratic Sen. Jamie Raskin, who pushed for the ban in his chamber, says there is some truth to the accusation that some guns being banned over how they look.

"Those cosmetic features are precisely what appeal to those mass shooters. They think that they look cool," Raskin says. "They are military-style assault weapons and they are getting them and going out imagining they are in some kind of movie. But those are real people being killed all over the country."

Raskin cites the Supreme Court ruling that overturned D.C.'s handgun ban in arguing an assault weapon ban is lawful, and needed.

"The Supreme Court has said you have the right to a handgun for self-defense purposes at least in the home," Raskin says. "Nobody has the right to an assault weapon, or a grenade launcher, or a nuclear weapon, even though they are 'arms.'"

For the bill to get to the House floor, it must pass a combined majority of the two committees.

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