My name is Jeff Weinstein and I reside in Yarmouth. I'm President of the Maine Gun Owners Association and a Member of the NRA National Speakers Bureau.
The Bill youre considering today, LD 1579, is a proposed piece of legislation that would serve no useful purpose towards the improvement of public safety. What this legislation would do is seriously impinge upon the rights of Maine citizens to purchase, own, or possess firearms that are, in most respects, universally recognized as common and usual throughout the state.
The purported difference between the firearms marked for restriction in the Bill and other virtually identical firearms commonly used by millions of gun owners throughout the country is purely cosmetic. Theres NO operational distinction between the restricted firearms and those used for hunting and competitive shooting. The apparent military appearance criteria seems to be the only basis for implying that the restricted firearms are extraordinarily dangerous or threatening. Under this Bill, the sale, purchase, or possession of a restricted firearm would be determined solely by the color or shape of the stock, or by the ability to attach rather benign accessories to the firearm. The thinking behind this foolishness is frankly both illogical and bewildering to anyone with a basic understanding of firearms.
As you should know, the entire nation has just completed a grand experiment called the Assault Weapons Ban (AWB). The Federal government compiled statistics during the time that the AWB was in effect, and those statistics showed that the AWB had virtually no effect on the already very low percentage of violent incidents involving so-called assault weapons. These statistics powerfully influenced Congress to not extend the AWB at the Federal level.
On the economic side of this issue, I suspect that nobody at the legislative level has done an economic impact study related to this proposed Bill. From the standpoint of Maine Sales Tax revenue alone, one could conservatively estimate that the state treasury would lose many tens of thousands of dollars should this Bill pass. Additionally, it would significantly affect the income statements of dozens of licensed firearms dealers in Maine, many of them already struggling under an onerous tax structure that punitively impacts nearly all of Maines small businesses.
With respect to the provision in this proposed Bill banning the sale, purchase, or possession of .50-caliber rifles and ammunition, this is another example of a loopy legislative solution chasing a non-existent problem. For those few gun owners who are interested in this powerful and accurate caliber, the ballistic science of this ordnance opens up a fascinating and challenging dimension of long-range competitive shooting. But, is this caliber particularly dangerous? Hardly! First of all, its not used in hunting. Secondly, there is not one known incident throughout the entire country involving the offensive use of a .50-caliber rifle!
Its clear to me that LD 1579 is an illogically crafted Bill devoid of any factual support whatsoever. Its also very likely unconstitutional under both the Maine and United States Constitutions.
LD 1579 is an affront to the extraordinarily law-abiding citizens of Maine.
Common sense and rationality demand that LD 1579 be emphatically defeated by this Committee.
Thank you for the opportunity to address my concerns and those of the gun owners of Maine.