Maine Lawmakers Race to Pass Gun Safety Bills Before Session Ends

Maine legislature rushes to pass gun safety bills after deadliest shooting, including 'yellow flag' law, background checks, and mental health funding, despite strong gun rights lobby.

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Maine Lawmakers Race to Pass Gun Safety Bills  Before Session Ends

Maine Lawmakers Race to Pass Gun Safety Bills Before Session Ends

The Maine state legislature is working to pass a series of gun safety bills before the end of the legislative session, following the deadliest shooting in the state's history in October 2022. The key measures include strengthening the state's 'yellow flag' law, boosting background checks for private gun sales, making it a crime to recklessly sell a gun to a prohibited person, and funding violence prevention initiatives and mental health services.

The House has voted to enact the governor's omnibus bill and has also endorsed a 72-hour waiting period for gun purchases and a ban on bump stocks. Lawmakers faced a Wednesday deadline to complete their work, with the governor stating she will not call a special session to give them more time.

Why this matters: The legislative action comes in response to public demands for measures to prevent future mass shootings, despite Maine's strong hunting tradition and active gun rights lobby. The bills represent a significant shift in the state's approach to gun safety, which has previously rejected universal background checks.

A 'red flag' law proposal that allows family members to petition for the removal of guns from someone in a psychiatric crisis is also awaiting action. The bills were introduced after the Lewiston shooting that killed 18 people and injured 13 others, prompting lawmakers to act on constituents' calls for stronger gun laws.

The Maine House also passed bills to update the definition of 'machine gun' to align with federal law and prohibit semi-automatic weapons that can be converted into machine guns. Another bill imposes a 72-hour waiting period for certain firearm purchases, which proponents say is a suicide prevention and mental health crisis support measure.

Governor Janet Mills' spokesperson, Lindsay Crete, said in a statement, "The governor is pleased to see the Legislature moving forward with her bill and other measures to prevent gun violence and keep Maine people safe. She looks forward to signing them into law."

Key Takeaways

  • Maine legislature working to pass gun safety bills before session end.
  • Key measures include strengthening 'yellow flag' law, background check boost.
  • House voted for 72-hour gun purchase waiting period, bump stock ban.
  • Bills aim to prevent mass shootings, despite Maine's gun rights lobby.
  • Governor supports the legislation and looks forward to signing it into law.