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Only five of the 11 new gun reform bills remain alive in the Maine legislature, covering Extreme Risk Protection Orders (“red flag”), background checks, safe storage, ghost guns, and waiting periods. Meanwhile, Republicans are pushing a deadly “Stand Your Ground” bill. Learn more about the bills, check their status, and make sure your legislators know how you want them to vote! 

 

THE ISSUE

 

11 new gun reform bills were introduced to the Maine legislature this term, covering Extreme Risk Protection Orders, background checks, safe storage, high capacity magazines, waiting periods, and firearm collection days. Republicans also introduced a dangerous “stand your ground” bill. Some of these bills have since been dismissed, while others have work sessions pending or are headed to the House or Senate. All the remaining bills currently face stiff opposition, and Democratic lawmakers are telling us that they are not hearing from supporters of gun reform. Find more info, check the status of each bill below, and be sure to email your legislators ASAP and let them know that you’ve waited long enough for common sense gun reforms. For the bills that are still in committee, be sure to email the full committee, telling them which bills you support and why they’re needed. Copy and paste their email addresses:

Susan.Deschambault@legislature.maine.gov, Michael.Carpenter@Legislature.Maine.gov, Kimberley.Rosen@legislature.maine.gov, Charlotte.Warren@legislature.maine.gov, Pinny.Beebe-Center@legislature.maine.gov, Janice.Cooper@legislature.maine.gov,
Patrick.Corey@legislature.maine.gov, Danny.Costain@Legislature.Maine.gov, Chris.Johansen@Legislature.Maine.gov, Victoria.Morales@Legislature.Maine.gov, Richard.Pickett@legislature.maine.gov, Lois.Reckitt@Legislature.Maine.gov, Braden.Sharpe@Legislature.Maine.gov

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Extreme Risk Protection Orders | High Capacity Magazines | Safe Storage | Background Checks | 3D and Ghost Guns | Waiting Period | Firearm Collection Day | Stand Your Ground

 

BILLS TO SUPPORT

 

Extreme Risk Protection Orders (“Red Flag Law”)

LD 1312, An Act Regarding Access to Firearms by Extremely Dangerous and Suicidal Individuals. This bill authorizes the use of Extreme Risk Protection Orders (ERPO) to temporarily remove firearms from a person shown to pose a danger of causing injury to themselves or another person. ERPO petitions can only be filed by family and household members or law enforcement officers, and are granted by a judge. If the judge agrees that the individual poses a risk of harm, the individual’s firearms are removed for 14 days. After a full-party hearing, the order can be extended for an additional 365 days if necessary.  Counsel is provided to protection order subjects if they cannot afford their own, and the merits of the petition can be challenged at the full-party hearing. Family members filing a petition for an ERPO must be explicitly informed that making false claims against an individual is a felony, punishable by up to 5 years in prison and $5,000 in fines. Sponsored by Sen. Rebecca Millett (D-Cumberland). Read the bill.

 

Status: Critical. The committee issued a divided report on May 22 and the bill now heads to the Senate. We are hearing through sources that Gov. Mills is likely to veto this bill in favor of her own bill, drafted in coordination with gun owners groups including the NRA, Sportsman’s Alliance of Maine, and Gun Owners of Maine. While Gov. Mills’ bill is being sold as a red flag “compromise”, it is neither a red flag bill nor a compromise, having been drafted in secret without the input of gun safety experts. While we have yet to see the details, the preliminary indications are that Mills’ plan would only address those shown to have a serious mental illness, like those who are involuntarily admitted to psychiatric facilities through the “blue paper” process. Such a process would not address any of the issues red flag bills are designed for, specifically people in a temporary state of acute crisis or those expressing a desire to act out violently against someone else – not those with serious mental illness for whom there are already laws in place. Please email and call Gov. Mills (207-287-3531) and your reps to tell them that you support this bill as written. 

Why we need it: Extreme Risk Protection Orders are primarily sought by family members seeking to prevent a suicide. While mass shootings and gun homicides command media attention, the majority of gun deaths in America (more than 21,000 a year) are firearms suicides. Maine’s suicide rate is higher than the national average, and is the second leading cause of death for individuals ages 15-34. About half of our state’s suicide deaths are committed with guns. The difference between suicide attempts made with guns and by other means is stark. 90% of people who attempt suicide by other means survive. By contrast, 90% of suicide attempts with a gun are fatal. Temporarily removing firearms from a person in crisis can prevent tragedies. Following Connecticut’s increased enforcement of its ERPO law, the law was associated with a 14% reduction in the state’s firearm suicide rate. Mainers support this bill. New polling shows that 81% of Mainers support a Red Flag bill in Maine, including 79% of rural voters and 80% of gun owners.

 

High-Capacity Magazines

LD 1071, An Act To Prohibit the Sale of High-capacity Magazines. This bill makes sale of a high-capacity magazine a Class D crime. A high-capacity magazine contains more than 10 rounds of ammunition. Sponsored by Rep. Barbara Cardone (D-Bangor). Read the bill.

Status: The bill was unanimously dismissed.

Why we need it: Assault weapons and high-capacity magazines are frequently used in mass shootings, resulting in more deaths and injuries. Over the past decade, the five deadliest mass shooting incidents in America all involved the use of high-capacity magazines. An Everytown analysis of mass shootings from 2009 to 2017 revealed that, of the incidents with known magazine capacity, 58% involved high-capacity magazines. These shootings resulted in twice as many fatalities and 14 times as many injuries per incident compared to those that did not include high-capacity magazines. Nine states and Washington, DC, already have some kind of high capacity magazine prohibition in place. States with restrictions on magazine size experience mass shootings at less than half the rate of states without restrictions. According to Dr. Michael Siegel, a researcher at Boston University, “Whether a state has a large capacity ammunition magazine ban is the single best predictor of the mass shooting rates in that state.” Maine hunters are already prohibited from using high capacity magazines, so there is no legitimate reason for using them in sport.

 

Safe Storage

LD 379, An Act To Protect Children by Requiring the Safe Storage of Loaded Firearms. This bill creates the Class E crime of unlawful storage of a firearm, which includes storing firearms loaded, knowing that a child could gain access to a loaded firearm without parental permission, children gaining access to loaded firearms and using them in threatening ways, during commission of a crime, or firing the weapon recklessly. The bill also requires firearms dealers to post a warning at each purchase counter regarding the need to secure firearms from unauthorized use. Sponsored by Rep. Victoria Doudera (D-Camden). Read the bill.

Status: A work session is scheduled for May 28 at 1pm.

LD 1033, An Act To Protect Children from Accidental Injury Due to Unsafe Storage of Firearms. This bill requires that firearms kept in a place where children reside or receive child care services or where persons prohibited from possessing firearms reside be secured in a locked container or with tamper-resistant devices that prevent them from being discharged. It excludes antique firearms from this requirement. A fine is provided for violation of the requirement, and a violation is evidence of wanton or reckless conduct in any criminal or civil case if injury or death was the result of the violation. Sponsored by Rep. Anne Perry (D-Calais). Read the bill.

Status: The bill was unanimously dismissed.

Why we need them: Gun violence is now the second leading cause of death for American children and teens. More than 3,400 die each year as a result of gun-related homicide, suicide, and accidents. Access to a firearm doubles the risk of death by homicide, and triples the risk of death by suicide. 4.6 million American children live in households with at least one loaded, unlocked firearm. For children under the age of 13, gun homicides most frequently occur in the home and are often connected to domestic or family violence. American children who die by gun suicide overwhelmingly use guns they find at home. One study revealed that over 80% of child firearm suicides involved a gun belonging to a family member. And 17% of American high school students report seriously considering a suicide attempt. This combination of suicidal ideation and easy firearm access can be lethal. Mainers should also know that the more rural the county and the more prevalent gun ownership is, the higher the risk of death by gun suicide. Research indicates that responsible gun storage practices are associated with reduced rates of child firearm deaths. How guns are stored matters. A study published this month in JAMA Pediatrics has found that even a modest increase in owners who lock up their guns would pay off in an outsize drop in gun deaths. Another study found that safe storage practices were associated with up to 85% reductions in the risk of self-inflicted and unintentional firearm injuries among children and teenagers. Maine currently has no child access prevention law.

 

Background Checks

LD 810, An Act To Require Background Checks for All Private Firearm Sales or Transfers Except between Family Members. This bill allows the transfer or sale of a firearm between 2 individuals who are not licensed as firearm dealers if the buyer submits to a background check conducted by a licensed firearm dealer. This bill does not restrict transfers to family members; temporary transfers between persons who are hunting or sport shooting together; transfers done for emergency self-defense; the transfer of an antique weapon or curio; a transfer involving a law enforcement officer or agency, member of the military or licensed security guard; or a transfer that occurs by operation of law upon a person’s death. Sponsored by Sen. David Miramant (D-Knox). Read the bill.

Status: A work session is scheduled for May 28 at 1pm.

LD 1276, An Act To Better Enforce the Prohibition against Dangerous Persons Possessing Firearms. This bill requires background checks of purchasers of firearms for all private sales at gun shows or private sales resulting from advertising or marketing. Sponsored by Sen. Linda Sanborn (D-Cumberland). Read the bill.

Status: The bill was unanimously dismissed.

LD 747, An Act to Promote the Safe Use and Sale of Firearms. This bill holds sellers of firearms liable if they sell to a prohibited person, makes it a crime to sell to a person known to be prohibited, and increases the fine for giving a false name to a gun seller. It also calls for a study to be conducted on the “blue paper” process, which temporarily removes firearms from people who are admitted to psychiatric hospitals on an emergency basis. Sponsored by Rep. Barbara Cardone (D-Bangor). Read the bill.

Status: The bill was unanimously dismissed.

Why we need them: 93% of Americans and the majority of Mainers agree: all gun buyers should pass a criminal background check. It is illegal under both federal law and Maine law for certain dangerous people — like felons, domestic abusers, the dangerously mentally ill, and fugitives — to buy or possess guns. The federal background check system works: since it was implemented, it has blocked nearly three million gun sales across the country to people legally prohibited from having firearms, including at least 5,501 sales in Maine. The problem is that background check laws only apply if you buy from gun dealers. But today about 40% of Maine gun sales happen online or at gun shows, where anyone can buy a gun with no background check, no questions asked. It’s a gaping loophole that criminals easily exploit. In Maine, convicted domestic abusers and people subject to domestic violence restraining orders attempt to purchase firearms at a rate twice the national average. Under current Maine law, those dangerous people who fail background checks at a licensed dealer can simply pick up Uncle Henry’s or go to Armslist.com, where they can buy from an unlicensed seller, no background check required. The evidence shows that background checks reduce gun deaths. States that require background checks for all handgun sales have nearly halved their incidents of mass shootings, fatal domestic violence shootings, fatal shootings of police officers, and gun trafficking in cities. Getting to a licensed dealer is easy: 98.5% of Maine residents currently live within 10 miles of one.

 

3D Printed and Ghost Guns

LD 1569 An Act to Prohibit Untraceable and Undetectable Firearms. This bill regulates the manufacture, distribution, and possession of ghost guns and 3-D printed guns, which are fully functioning firearms that can be made at home by unlicensed firearm manufacturers, sellers, and distributors either by purchasing the necessary parts separately, or as part of mail order gun kits, or by downloading a computer code with instructions for a 3D printer. It also prohibits, with certain exceptions, the dissemination of downloadable gun code from which untraceable firearms can be manufactured. Sponsored by Rep. Lois Reckitt. Read the bill.

Status: A work session is scheduled for May 28 at 1pm. 

Why we Need it: 3D-printed and homemade firearms allow convicted felons, domestic abusers, and other dangerous people to ignore our background check system by making their own firearms, undetected by police. Last year the Trump administration entered into a settlement with gun rights activists to allow the manufacture and distribution of 3D printed guns. Not only do these guns not have serial numbers, they are also made of plastic, which can be harder for law enforcement to detect. Guns produced with 3D printers are just the latest example of a dangerous trend: the rise of “ghost guns.” “Ghost guns” are do-it-yourself guns that are assembled from parts ordered online. Kits can be ordered online that include all the parts required to assemble fully functional firearms, including handguns and AR-15-style assault rifles. Ghost guns have been used in mass shootings​, and a recent sting operation in Los Angeles busted a gang that was manufacturing and selling ghost guns​.​ ​The police recovered forty-five firearms, but there was no way to trace the weapons the gang had already sold.

 

Waiting Period

LD 1099, “An Act To Reduce Suicides and Violent Crimes by Requiring a 72-hour Waiting Period after the Sale of a Firearm”. This bill requires a 72-hour waiting period between an agreement for the purchase and sale of a firearm and its delivery to the purchaser and makes violation of the waiting period a civil violation with a $200 to $500 fine for the first violation and a $500 to $1,000 fine for a subsequent violation. Sponsored by Sen. Brownie Carson (D-Cumberland). Read the bill. 

Status: A work session is scheduled for May 28 at 1pm.

Why we need it: Waiting periods provide a “cooling off” period, letting anger or suicidal impulses pass, and closing the window of opportunity for violently motivated individuals. According to a 2017 study, delaying the purchase of guns by a couple of days could save nearly 1,700 lives a year. The study also showed that waiting periods were associated with a 17% decrease in gun homicides and a 7% to 11% decrease in gun suicides per year. According to the research, in the 17 states and the District of Columbia that have waiting periods, roughly 750 gun homicides a year are prevented as a result. “Expanding the waiting period policy to all other U.S. states would prevent an additional 910 gun homicides per year,” the study says, “without imposing any restrictions on who can own a gun.” The American Medical Association voted to expand its gun safety policy to include support for waiting periods, in addition to background checks for all firearm buyers.

Firearm Collection Day

LD 516: “An Act to Establish a Statewide Voluntary Firearm Collection Day and Ongoing Program”. This bill directs the Commissioner of Public Safety to design, implement, and administer a statewide voluntary firearm collection day, to provide an annual, one-day opportunity for any person to voluntarily turn over any firearm or ammunition in the person’s possession to a law enforcement officer at a number of sites conveniently located throughout the State. Collected firearms and ammunition will be destroyed, except for firearms determined to have been stolen or used in the commission of a crime. Sponsored by Rep. Heidi Brooks (D-Lewiston). Read the bill.

Status: The bill was unanimously dismissed.

Why we need it: Simply having a gun in your home raises your risk of death by homicide or suicide. Having a secure location to surrender a firearm helps prevent old, broken, and unwanted guns being misused, stolen, or falling into the hands of children. 

 

BILL TO OPPOSE

 

“Stand Your Ground” bill

LD 533, An Act To Eliminate the Statutory Duty To Retreat and Affirm the Right of Self-defense. This bill removes the requirements that a person retreat if it is safe to do so and if the person can comply with a demand that the person abstain from performing an act that the person is not obliged to perform. The bill also permits the use of deadly force to prevent death or serious bodily injury in self-defense, in defense of a 3rd person, in defense of a dwelling or to prevent the forcible commission of a kidnapping, a robbery or a gross sexual assault. Sponsored by Rep. John Andrews (R-Paris). Read the bill.

Status: A work session is scheduled for May 28 at 1pm.

Why it’s bad: “Stand Your Ground” laws upend centuries of traditional self-defense doctrine and threaten public safety by encouraging armed vigilantism, allowing a person to kill another person in a public area even when they can clearly and safely walk away from the danger. These laws are associated with increases in homicides and injuries across different demographics and neighborhoods, disproportionately impacting people of color, and importantly, do not deter crime. Florida’s Stand Your Ground law was associated with a 32% increase in firearm homicide rates and a 24% increase in overall homicide rates. It was also associated with bringing violence into suburban counties that were previously considered safe.

 

Sen. Susan Collins (R)

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Washington, DC (202) 224-2523

Sen. Angus King (I)

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Washington, DC: (202) 224-5344

Rep. Chellie Pingree
(D-CD1)

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Washington, DC: (202) 225-6116 

Rep. Jared Golden
(D-CD2)

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Washington
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Maine Senate:
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