AUGUSTA, Maine — A committee vote Friday left Maine unlikely to move forward on legislation prohibiting the sale of high-capacity magazines, but lawmakers are still weighing other bills aimed at limiting access to firearms.
The Democratic-led Legislature’s Criminal Justice and Public Safety Committee voted Friday against half a dozen gun control bills.
The bills received dozens of comments at public hearings last week from critics who warned of governmental overreach infringing on constitutional rights, and supporters who say Maine must address domestic violence homicides tied to firearms and rising rates of firearm suicide.
“I think it’s all about access, not taking away guns,” said Democratic Rep. Victoria Morales, a committee member. “Reducing access for those who are most vulnerable.”
The committee is set to consider five additional bills May 28. Committee Democratic House Chair Charlotte Warren said lawmakers need more time to go through such bills.
“We want to do it right,” she said.
Those bills include background checks for private firearm sales, 72-hour waiting periods for gun buyers, and criminalizing leaving unattended a loaded firearm that a child then inappropriately uses. Another bill would prevent the manufacture, import, sale, transfer and possession of 3D printed guns, with certain exceptions.
A Republican, meanwhile, proposes allowing the use of deadly force to prevent death or serious bodily injury to defend oneself, one’s home or another person.
Gun control efforts have long faced steep odds in the largely rural state, where hunters tout a long history of responsible gun ownership. The Democratic-led Legislature could still revive the bills, but such a move is seen as unlikely.
Voters in Maine, which allows licensed owners to carry guns in public as long as they are concealed, defeated a question on universal background checks backed by former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg in 2016, and Democratic Gov. Janet Mills has said Maine should respect the people’s will on the issue.