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Maine ‘gun control tsunami’ fizzles, twelve bills dead

Speaker Sara Gideon with anti-gun activist and advocate David Hogg at the Maine State House.

AUGUSTA – A far-reaching effort to impose what Maine gun rights advocates called a ‘gun control tsunami’ has been defeated with the end of the Maine Legislature’s 2019 legislative session.

At the beginning of March, leaders of the Maine Legislature scheduled public hearings on a slew of bills designed to restrict the constitutional right of the Maine people to keep and bear arms.

Among the proposals were bills to allow the confiscation of guns from Mainers without due process through a secret court process, impose restrictions on how people store firearms in their own homes and a bill to restrict magazine capacity so severely that standard issue law enforcement sidearms would have been affected.

Another bill simply was titled, “An Act Regarding Gun Control” but the text was left blank to serve as a vehicle for unknown legislative proposals.

The battles over these proposed laws were among the most hard-fought on the side of supporters and opponents. Supporters of the bills, many with ties to national anti-gun donor Michael Bloomberg, spent money advertising to pressure legislators and even brought in David Hogg, a prominent young anti-gun activist to attempt to pressure lawmakers into passing anti-gun laws.

Opponents of the bills, for their part, marched on Augusta, repeatedly bringing hundreds of Maine people in to testify and advocate for the defeat of the bills.

The bills, twelve in total, have now been defeated. Following is a run down:

L.D. 379 sponsored by Rep. Victoria Doudera (D – Camden) would create a new Class E crime for a gun owner if a person under 16 years of age gains access to their firearm and uses it in a reckless or dangerous manner. The proposal adds requirements on gun owners for securing their firearms, and requires all firearm dealers to post a warning about the law at their counter. (DEAD – Voted down in Maine House and Senate)

L.D. 516 sponsored by Rep. Heidi Brooks (D – Lewiston) would establish a statewide voluntary firearm collection day and establish a permanent ongoing program. Among other things, local and county law enforcement agencies would be required to report to the state how many guns they have collected. The bill also would require every Maine State Police location in the state that is open to the public to become a year-round firearm collection site. (DEAD – Committee Unanimous Ought Not To Pass recommendation)

L.D. 747 sponsored by Rep. Barbara Cardone (D – Bangor) creates new civil violations and fines for some individuals who transfer a firearm to a person who is forbidden to possess one. It also raises the fines on an individual who gives a false or incorrect name to a firearms dealer. That fine is currently $50, under the bill, the fine would be $1,000 and mandatory. (DEAD – Committee Unanimous Ought Not To Pass recommendation)

Maine Rep. justifies gun control laws because seeing man with hand in pocket scared her

L.D. 810 sponsored by Sen. David Miramant (D – Knox) appears to be a rehashed version of the 2016 referendum that was defeated in Maine that would have required all transfers of firearms to be approved through a background check. This bill makes the first offense a Class D Crime, the second offense is a Class C Crime. The bill exempts family members transferring firearms to one another and has a few other exemptions for temporary transfers. (DEAD – Committee Unanimous Ought Not To Pass recommendation)

L.D. 869 sponsored by Rep. Matthea Daughtry (D – Brunswick) is titled “An Act Regarding Gun Control” but does not yet have any text, just saying it is a concept draft, as of April 3, 2019. (DEAD – Committee Unanimous Ought Not To Pass recommendation)

L.D. 1033 sponsored by Rep. Anne Perry (D – Calais) creates a crime for gun owners who do not store their guns in a locked container or use certain security  devices, even in their own homes. The evidence of a crime is wanton or reckless conduct if injury or death results in the violation. The fine can be as low as $200 for the first offense and as high as $1,000 for additional offenses. It is not clear from the text of the bill how this law would be enforced or how violations would be discovered by law enforcement. (DEAD – Committee Unanimous Ought Not To Pass recommendation)

L.D. 1071 sponsored by Rep. Barbara Cardone (D – Bangor) would ban the sale of magazines with a capacity of higher than 10 rounds for all firearms in the state of Maine. Many, if not most of, the sidearms carried by law enforcement officers in Maine have standard magazine capacity higher than 10 rounds, which means this law would likely criminalize a law enforcement officer purchasing a replacement magazine, among other things. Many sidearms sold on the commercial market also come with standard magazines of higher capacity as well as many sporting rifles. (DEAD – Committee Unanimous Ought Not To Pass recommendation)

L.D. 1099 sponsored by Senator Everett “Brownie” Carson (D – Cumberland) would treat anyone purchasing a firearm in Maine as if they might use that firearm to commit a violent crime such as a murder, or commit suicide. It implements a 72-hour waiting period from the time the firearm is purchased until the buyer can take possession of the firearm. Bank guards, armed truck guards, law enforcement and firearms dealers would be exempt. The fine would be $200-$500 for a first offense and $500-$1,000 for violations thereafter. (DEAD – Voted down in Maine House and Senate)

L.D. 1276 sponsored by Sen. Linda Sanborn (D – Cumberland) is another background check proposal, which expands background checks to private sales if that sale was the result of an interaction at a gun show or from advertising. (DEAD – Voted down in Maine House and Senate)

L.D. 1312 sponsored by Sen. Rebecca Millett (D – Cumberland) was the “Red Flag” proposal that would have allowed the confiscation of firearms from law-abiding gun owners through a secret court process even if they had not been accused of any crime. (DEAD – Voted down in Maine House and Senate)

L.D. 1470 sponsored by Sen. Cathy Breen (D – Cumberland) would have allowed for the local prohibition of firearms at certain public meetings. (DEAD – Voted down in Maine House and Senate)

L.D. 1569 sponsored by Rep. Lois Reckitt (D – South Portland) attempts to crack down on the ability of Mainers to download and create firearms with blueprints and a 3-D printer. It also creates a new crime for distributing the information to create 3-D printed guns, and makes it a crime to transfer, sell, attempt to sell, or distribute unfinished gun parts. (DEAD – Committee Unanimous Ought Not To Pass recommendation)

While all of these bills were defeated, one law that deals with preventing individuals in acute mental health crisis or with severe mental illness from possessing guns for up to 14 days did pass. That law will only apply to individuals who were taken into protective custody by law enforcement.

Under the law, if a medical professional, upon evaluating the individual, determines they pose a likely threat of serious harm, their firearms could be confiscated for up to 14 days until judicial. At that point a court then has one year to choose to continue or dissolve those restrictions.

That bill, L.D. 1811, won the support of most gun rights advocates and gun control advocates as a compromise.

The second half of the 129th Maine Legislature is slated to begin in January, 2020. Bills that were defeated in the first session would not be taken up, but new proposals can be introduced if deemed “emergency” measures.

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