The Maine Legislature will take up a bump stock ban bill this session, a move supported by President Trump in the wake of the deadly Florida school shooting last week that left 17 dead.

In addition, two other proposals may be introduced, officials say: One would ban high-capacity magazines and the other would allow law enforcement to strip dangerous individuals of their gun rights under certain circumstances.

“There’s been a wave of realization that banning bump stocks is the least we can do in light of the horrific shootings,” said bill sponsor Rep. Scott Hamann, D-South Portland. “I don’t want to suggest banning bump stocks are going to stop mass shootings but it’s a first step in the conversation around gun safety.”

A bump stock, an accessory that turns a semiautomatic firearm into an automatic weapon, was used in a Las Vegas shooting in October that left 58 concert-goers dead. Hamann introduced his proposal after the Las Vegas shooting, but it was tabled by the Legislative Council, comprised of leaders from both parties, in December.

Now the Legislative Council has agreed to consider the bump stock ban Tuesday. Officials said the other two proposals may be taken up by the Legislative Council, but a final decision had not been made Friday.

House Speaker Sara Gideon, who sits on the council with other legislative leaders, said addressing gun violence and keeping children safe will be a priority “for the rest of the session and the rest of my time in the Legislature.”


“This is an issue that is always important to us and to me personally, but the events in Parkland, Florida, last week created a space where everyone was listening to children’s voices in a different way,” said Gideon, D-Freeport, a mother of three. “We want to make sure we are listening and responding.”

Gideon said gun violence restraining orders have proven effective in other states, and law enforcement officials have told her it is a “key piece” for them.

There is already a closely watched gun bill under consideration – L.D. 1761 – which would allow people picking up or dropping off students at schools to have an unloaded gun in their car if the weapon was locked and the owner didn’t leave the vehicle. The bill is under consideration in the Legislature’s Education and Cultural Affairs Committee.

It wasn’t clear if the bump stock bill would get the votes Tuesday to be presented to the full Legislature.

“It looks like the federal government is poised to take up the issue and I think that is more appropriate than doing it piecemeal” at the state level, said Senate President Michael Thibodeau, one of five Republicans on the council.

The council is made up of the 10 members of legislative leadership, including the Senate president and the House speaker. Its approval is needed for any bill that is filed after the deadline.


“I don’t know on any of these bills what will happen in the Legislative Council with the other nine members who will be voting besides me,” Gideon said. “But for me, I have thought about almost nothing other than this recently.”

Massachusetts banned bump stocks on Feb. 1 and several states, including California, New York, Michigan and Minnesota, have bans or restrictions on bump stocks or devices that enhance trigger ability.

If the Maine proposal gets the votes to become a bill, it will face opposition, according to a “legislative alert” sent out by Gun Owners of Maine. The email to members said they were prepared to fight the bill.

“Think about this for a minute,” read the email. “This silly plastic accessory that thousands of us have been using for competition, recreational shooting and just good solid range time for almost 15 years, without a single problem, is now facing a ban,” the email read.

Calls and emails to the group were not returned Friday.

The email warned that banning bump stocks would only be the beginning.


“So this isn’t “a bump stock issue” but our constant giving and NEVER receiving anything in return. EVER. We constantly have things taken away while they completely ignore our outcry to do something useful, like fix the mental health system and put armed guards in the schools,” read the message.

Over the last decade, the Legislature has passed several law changes around firearms, including bills sealing public access to concealed handgun permit information and allowing state residents to carry concealed weapons without a permit.

At the same time, attempts to increase restrictions or tighten gun control have largely failed.

Voters in 2016 rejected a citizen’s ballot question that would have required background checks for private gun sales and transfers. In 2017, a bill prohibiting the state from creating any kind of gun registry was also passed into law, as was a bill that protected gun sellers from having to provide the state with copies of federal gun records unless the request is part of a criminal investigation.

But also in 2017, the Legislature rejected a move to allow 18-year-olds to carry a concealed handgun without a permit. Current law is any 21-year-old who is not otherwise prohibited from owning a firearm may carry a concealed handgun without a permit, except where prohibited by other state and federal law.

“(The) bottom line is that we want to do something meaningful that we can actually pass into law, and if vetoed by the governor, has a chance of passing,” said Sen. Brownie Carson, D-Harpswell. “That can be a challenge.”


Camden resident Roy Hitchings, a retired hospital administrator and Vietnam veteran, said Friday that he supported a ban on bump stocks.

“We have to have reasonable progress on this issue,” said Hitchings, who sent a letter to Hamann urging him to keep pressing for a ban. “No one is trying to take away guns legitimately used for hunting and self defense. (Fully automatic) weapons are the kinds of weapons we used in Vietnam. They are weapons of war.”

Noel K. Gallagher can be reached at 791-6387 or at:

Twitter: noelinmaine


CORRECTION: This story was updated at 3:27 p.m. on Feb. 26, 2018, to correct the year in which voters rejected a citizens’ ballot question that would have required background checks for private gun sales and transfers. 

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