AUGUSTA — In the wake of a deadly school shooting that sparked a nationwide debate on school safety and gun control, a Maine lawmaker asked fellow lawmakers to defeat his bill that would have allowed firearms in cars on school campuses.

“This is not the time to further discuss this legislation,” bill sponsor Rep. John Martin, D-Eagle Lake, wrote in an letter to the Education and Cultural Affairs Committee, which took up the bill on Wednesday.

The bill, L.D. 1761, would have allowed people picking up or dropping off students at schools to have an unloaded gun in their car if the weapon was locked and the owner didn’t leave the vehicle.

The committee voted 10-1 that the bill ought not to pass. The dissenting member, Beth Turner, R-Burlington, said she supported the bill as written. The bill now goes to the House.

Martin said he had intended the bill to codify existing federal law.

“It became clear to me immediately prior to the (public hearing in January) that a discussion of local gun practices as addressed in this bill was becoming a discussion about allowing guns in school,” Martin wrote. “I have never supported guns in schools except as allowed by law and I am unclear how arming teachers would work.”

At the public hearing, many superintendents and educators spoke against the bill, as did representatives of the Maine Principals’ Association, the Maine School Boards Association and the Maine School Superintendents Association.

On Tuesday, Maine’s top lawmakers agreed to allow legislative debate on three bills designed to prevent gun violence in Maine, after 17 students and staff members died in a mass shooting this month in Florida.

One bill would ask voters to approve a $20 million bond issue for school security projects. A second bill would set up a process for police to temporarily confiscate guns from a person whom a court has found to be a danger to the community. The third would seek to build community education programs to raise awareness of those who may be a danger to themselves or others.

Noel K. Gallagher can be reached at 791-6387 or at:

[email protected]

Twitter: noelinmaine

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