Maine Lawmakers Holding Hearings on Gun Control Measures

Could Collins Continue Imperfect Second Amendment Defense? iStock-884203988
Maine lawmakers are holding hearings this week on gun control legislation. (iStock-884203988)

Maine lawmakers are hearing from the public this week about legislation filed just days ago by Democrat legislators in response to last year’s rampage in Lewiston, and the first of those hearings was held on Monday, according to the Lewiston Sun Journal.

L.D. 2237, sponsored by House Speaker Rachel Talbot Ross (D-Portland), would establish an “Office of Violence Prevention” and create a “Gun Shop Project” in the state Department of Public Safety. According to the Portland Press Herald, Talbot Ross wants to “invest more than $2.5 million” to improve mental health crisis intervention capabilities and another $9 million for six new “mental health crisis receiving centers.”

It would also require the commissioner of public safety to develop a plan to notify the public of active shooter incidents.

L.D. 2238, sponsored by state Sen. Peggy Rotundo (D-Lewiston), would establish a 72-hour waiting period on gun purchases by private citizens.

The legislation is not without opposition. The Associated Press is reporting that state Sen. Matt Harrington, a York Republican, asserted the majority of Democrats are pushing legislation that failed previously.

Likewise, state Rep. Donald Ardell (R-Monticello) was quoted by WABI News contending the Lewiston mayhem was a failure of “governance” rather than existing law.

WABI also reported that Ardell observed, “Our Yellow Flag Law was in effect and was simply not utilized. It was a tool in our in law enforcement toolbox that simply was not taken out of the toolbox much less used. The shooter in Lewiston gave ample warning as to what he intended to do, and government action to stop it was not initiated. This is not a legislative problem at all. This was execution problem.”

And the Sun Journal noted “Maine voters in 2016 rejected a universal background checks for firearm purchases, and the Legislature has rejected other gun control bills as recently as last year.” The state has a long history and tradition of gun ownership and hunting, and gun owners are resisting the proposed changes.

The Lewiston killer, Robert Card, 40, was an Army reservist who had been in a hospital in New York state earlier in the year. His rampage hit two Lewiston businesses, a bar, and a bowling alley. An intense manhunt followed until his body was found not far from the crime scenes. He had taken his own life.

The three-day waiting period will ostensibly allow for a more extensive background check, but it is not clear whether such a requirement would have prevented the Lewiston shooting. The Sun Journal noted that gun control advocates have vowed to push for a ban on “assault-style semi-automatic weapons and large-capacity magazines.” It is a familiar demand from the gun prohibition lobby in several states, but two federal court challenges involving the Second Amendment Foundation – one in Illinois and the other in Maryland—have been referred to the U.S. Supreme Court for review.

Should the court take one of the cases or consolidate them and ultimately rule that such bans are unconstitutional under the Second Amendment, it would nullify similar bans in other states and possibly render any ban in Maine likewise moot.

The Maryland challenge, which also involves the Citizens Committee for the Right to Keep and Bear Arms and the Firearms Policy Coalition, may have a leg up because the high court two years ago already granted certiorari and then remanded the case back to the Fourth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals for further action following new guidelines established by the court in the 2022 Bruen decision.

The Maine Legislature is also looking at an amended version of L.D. 2086, sponsored by Sen. Anne Carney, which would amend the law governing disposition of forfeited firearms and “clamp down on the possession of firearms with devices that work like machine guns,” according to the Maine Senate Democrats’ website. This translates to a ban on so-called “bump stocks.” A hearing on this bill is scheduled Tuesday at 11:30 a.m. before the Health and Human Services Committee.

The legislature is scheduled to adjourn on April 17, which means lawmakers have about six weeks to move the bills, and there is pressure from gun control groups to get the measures to Gov. Janet Mills’ desk. The governor has already presented her gun control package. As noted by the Associated Press, it includes “strengthening the state’s extreme risk protection order (ERPO) law” and require background checks to “advertised, private sales of firearms.”

How this gun control push may affect this fall’s elections is unknown presently. Maine will hold its primary election on June 11, but the filing deadline for running for office is March 15, according to Ballotpedia.

About Dave Workman

Dave Workman is a senior editor at and Liberty Park Press, author of multiple books on the Right to Keep & Bear Arms, and formerly an NRA-certified firearms instructor.

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