Maine targets Second Amendment with several gun safety bills after deadliest shooting in state’s history

by Vern Evans

Maine has the Second Amendment in its crosshairs as the state Legislature is set to pass bills impacting the rights of gun-owning residents.

The Democratic-controlled House followed the Senate on Monday in approving the governor’s omnibus gun safety bill that strengthens the state’s yellow flag law, boosts background checks for private sales of guns and makes it a crime to recklessly sell a gun to a prohibited person.

The House will also consider two separate bills approved by the Senate that lengthen waiting periods for gun purchases and a ban on bump stocks.

The series of gun safety bills were introduced after a shooting spree at a bowling alley and a bar in Lewiston left 18 victims dead and injured more than a dozen others.

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The Legislature adjourns Wednesday, but Democrats in the chamber are hoping to pass the bills before it does, so they can send them to the desk of Gov. Janet Mills, a Democrat.

The bicameral Legislature is made up of the Senate, with 22 Democrats and 13 Republicans, and the House, which has 80 Democratic members and 68 Republicans.

Despite Democrats holding majorities, their effort is not immune to resistance as the state has a strong hunting tradition and vocal advocates for gun owner rights.

Location of the Lewiston shooting
Maine Governor Janet Mills

One bill that failed was a proposal to let gun violence victims sue weapon manufacturers.

So far, neither chamber has voted on a proposal for a red flag law.

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And, a separate measure sponsored by House Speaker Rachel Talbot Ross to fund a range of mental health and violence prevention initiatives does not yet have money in the final budget.

The Oct. 25, 2023 shooting that killed 18 people and injured 13 others in Lewiston prompted lawmakers to act. They specifically argued that constituents were demanding they do something that could prevent future attacks.

A sign that reads, "Lewiston Strong"
Sign in Lewiston

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One initiative, the red flag proposal, would allow family members to petition a judge to remove guns from someone’s home. The proposal differs from the state’s current yellow flag law that puts law enforcement officers — not the individual’s parents, siblings or children — in the lead of the process.

The initiative was proposed as police were warned by family members of the shooter, an Army reservist who took his own life after the deadly rampage.

A city sign that reads, "Lewiston"

Family members warned the eventual shooter was becoming paranoid and losing his grip on reality before the attack. He was hospitalized last summer while training with his Army Reserve unit.

On Sept. 15, his best friend, a fellow reservist, warned that the man was going “to snap and do a mass shooting.”

Six weeks later, he carried out the deadliest shooting in Maine history.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Read the full article here

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