Tuesday, March 11, 2014
The Associated Press
AUGUSTA — Fake guns on school grounds would be prohibited in Maine under a bill state lawmakers plan to take up at a public hearing Monday.
The bill would make it a crime to have replica firearms on school property – from pellet guns to fake guns that don’t shoot anything. The bill is not aimed, however, at toy guns with bright orange markings.
Democratic Sen. Dawn Hill of York, the bill’s sponsor, says the measure is necessary to prevent potentially serious tragedies. She said she introduced the measure in response to an incident at a high school in Kittery last summer when a resource officer found a BB gun in a student’s car.
The BB gun looked like a police-issued gun, but officers found they couldn’t take action against the student because Maine law doesn’t mention replica guns, Hill said.
With the heightened awareness around schools in the aftermath of shootings like the one in Connecticut that killed six educators and 20 children, the result of someone carrying a fake gun into a school building could be deadly if officers mistook it for a real one, she said.
“Let’s have the conversation because you can see how badly it can play out,” she said.
The Education and Cultural Affairs Committee will hold the public hearing.
Rep. Peter Johnson of Greenville, the ranking Republican member on the committee, says he’s concerned about overreacting, but understands that security around schools is a serious issue.
Chief Ted Short of the Kittery Police Department said officers see the proposal as another tool.