ANNAPOLIS – Senate foes of Gov. Parris N. Glendening’s gun- control legislation fired amendments at the measure Thursday, but none of them hit.
Backers of the bill easily deflected the seven amendments with wide-margin votes. A final vote is set for Tuesday, with both sides predicting easy passage in the Senate.
Foes of the legislation are now focusing their hopes on the House Judiciary Committee, where a vote scheduled for Monday is “too close to call,” said Chairman Joseph F. Vallario Jr., D- Prince George’s.
Vallario said he would let members of his committee try to amend the bill after a vote on the Senate version.
That is important because Glendening has promised to veto any bill different from the one that Sen. Walter M. Baker let through the Judicial Proceedings Committee that Baker chairs.
Glendening made the agreement with Baker in exchange for the Cecil County Democrat’s support, crucial to advancing the governor’s bill beyond the committee where gun-control measures have died in the past.
Baker’s committee approved an amended version of the governor’s bill on March 18 by a vote of 6 to 5.
Glendening spokesman Ray Feldmann said the governor “intends to live up to his commitment to Senator Baker.”
During Senate floor action, Baker objected to all of the amendments offered, saying each would kill the bill under his agreement with the governor.
The agreement “applies to any amendment whatsoever,” Baker told a reporter in the Senate lounge. “These things are not going to happen, and if they do the bill is dead.”
Senate opponents had originally planned a filibuster, but dropped the idea Thursday morning after Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller Jr., D-Prince George’s, agreed to delay a final vote on the gun-control legislation until Tuesday.
That gave foes the weekend to try to put grass-roots pressure on lawmakers in time for next week’s votes.
“The only thing we have left is to buy time,” said Sen. Philip C. Jimeno, D-Anne Arundel, who had planned to filibuster.
Miller said he was glad the Senate wouldn’t have to meet on Saturday, as it might have done under filibuster plans.
The bill would limit handgun purchases to one a month, impose waiting periods and background checks on private sales and ban so-called “straw man” purchases in which one person buys a gun on behalf of another. Among the amendments proposed by Senate opponents was one requiring state police to monitor the effect of the law, should it pass. Under the amendment by Sen. Larry E. Haines, R-Carroll, the law would expire after three years if it did not reduce gun crimes by 1 percent. The proposal failed by a vote of 30 to 17. -30-