Supporters and opponents debated a handgun ban and the state Equal Rights Amendment last night in the first of three Cambridge Forum discussions on Massachusetts referendum questions.
About 50 people heard Middlesex County Sherriff John J. Buckley and attorney Karen MacNutt speak on "should we ban private handguns?"
Buckley, founder of People vs. Handguns, said that a ban on guns would "be aimed at the passion crimes," and would decrease the number of gun-related accidents and suicides.
Saying "someone should speak for the victims," he cited figures and examples to show that most people killed with guns know the murderer.
MacNutt, chairman of the Suffolk County Gun Owners Action League, argued against the proposal, saying it would deprive citizens of a means of selfdefense, and give too much power to the police.
"I want to live in a free society," MacNutt said. Buckley then interrupted, saying, "Where everyone can shoot each other?"
Ann Kendall, chairman of the Committee to Ratify the Massachusetts Equal Rights Amendment, and Agnes J. Smith, co-chairman of the Committee to Stop ERA, spoke on ballot Question # 1.
Kendall, noting that 15 states already have equal rights amendments, said the ERA "is not a strange or exotic animal."
Arguing against the ERA, Smith said "the constitution is not a toy to be used for symbolic purposes." She warned that the ERA's passage would make women liable for the support of their husbands and for the draft.
The forum also covered Question #3, a proposal to allow absentee voting for religious purposes.