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Police back assault weapon ban

Maine authorities urge its renewal

BIDDEFORD, Maine -- Seventeen Maine police chiefs and four county sheriffs have urged US Senators Olympia Snowe and Susan Collins to back renewal of the ban on assault weapons.

The law enforcement officers also called on the senators to tighten gun laws by requiring instant background checks for all firearms sales at gun shows.

Collins's office said she supports continuation of the assault weapon ban and backs the institution of background checks at gun shows as long as they are completed in 24 hours. Snowe could not be reached for comment.

Most of the chiefs and sheriffs who signed the letter were from southern Maine. They were among nearly 200 law enforcers from 15 states who wrote similar letters to their senators.

Chief Roger Beaupre of Biddeford said he is not opposed to guns but supports the gun show amendment as a way to keep weapons out of the hands of criminals. Biddeford and nearby Sanford both host gun shows, Beaupre said, and "for the most part, legitimate people buy legitimate weapons."

"It's a touchy issue," he said. "We're a country with an established constitutional amendment that guarantees the right to bear arms." On the assault weapons ban, Beaupre said, "You don't need an assault weapon to go hunting."

Others who signed the letter included Sheriffs Todd Brackett of Lincoln County, Mark Dion of Cumberland County, Everett Flannery Jr. of Kennebec County, and Lloyd Herrick of Oxford County.

Also supporting the ban were chiefs Mathew Baker of Kennebunk, David Brooks of Lisbon, Michael Chitwood of Portland, John DiLeo of Ellsworth, Thomas Fales Sr. of Sabattus, Edward Googins of South Portland, Jerry Hinton of Brunswick, Pete Lizanecz of Bath, Wayne McCamish of Augusta, Paul McCarthy of Westbrook, John Moriss of Waterville, Gerald Schofield of Freeport, Ronald Shepard of Gorham, Edward Tolan of Falmouth, William Welch of Lewiston, and Donald Winslow of Bangor.

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