Spectators in the gallery watch the House of Representatives session on Tuesday as lawmakers voted to pass a 72-hour waiting period for firearm purchases and to ban bump stocks. Joe Phelan/Kennebec Journal

AUGUSTA — The Maine House of Representatives voted narrowly Tuesday to join the Senate in endorsing proposals that would ban bump stocks and other rapid-fire devices on firearms and enact a 72-hour waiting period on gun purchases.

The House voted 73-72 to pass the bump stock measure, and 74-73 in favor of the waiting period bill.

Both measures are part of a slate of gun bills the Legislature has taken up in the wake of the October mass shooting in Lewiston that left 18 people dead and 13 others injured. Both received initial support in the Senate last week and require a second round of votes in both chambers before they can be sent to Gov. Janet Mills.

The House also voted Tuesday to give final approval to L.D. 2224, Mills’ bill for expanded background checks to include private, advertised sales and that would tweak Maine’s yellow-flag law to make it easier for law enforcement to take someone into protective custody and restrict their access to weapons. The Senate gave initial approval to that bill last week.

But neither chamber has voted on L.D. 2283, a bill from House Speaker Rachel Talbot Ross, D-Portland, that would add a red flag process to Maine law to allow family members or law enforcement to restrict a person’s access to weapons without the mental health evaluation required in the yellow flag law.

A spokesperson for Talbot Ross said Tuesday evening that the red flag bill was not expected to be taken up in the House – which will consider the bill before the Senate does – until Wednesday, which is also scheduled to be the last day of the legislative session.



L.D. 2086, the bill banning bump stocks, was sponsored by Sen. Anne Carney, D-Cape Elizabeth, and is part of a larger bill requiring firearms forfeited to the state as part of a criminal sentence to be destroyed. It builds off existing state law that already requires firearms used in murders or unlawful homicides to be destroyed.

It also bans bump stocks and other rapid-fire devices that make a semi-automatic weapon fire like a machine gun.

“These conversion devices render an otherwise legal, semi-automatic weapon into something that functions like a machine gun,” said Rep. Amy Kuhn, D-Falmouth, who said they are increasingly being used in gang-related violence as well as mass shootings.

“I urge my colleagues to support this motion as a common sense measure to improve public safety,” Kuhn said.

Supporters of the bill said it would align Maine with federal law, which was amended in 2019 to ban bump stocks in response to the mass shooting in Las Vegas. Opponents said the definition Maine is considering would be broader and argued that there are appropriate applications for the devices, such as in hunting or shooting competitions.


They also argued against the part of the bill that would destroy firearms confiscated after crimes.

“Why destroy them when they can be repurposed for other revenue that is helpful for Mainers?” said Rep. David Haggan, R-Hampden. “This legislation assumes all firearms are evil and must be destroyed while ignoring the fact violent individuals commit crimes and would use other means to achieve other criminal activity.”

People gather at Capitol Park in Augusta in November to demand gun safety legislation. Sofia Aldinio/Staff Photographer


L.D. 2238, sponsored by Sen. Peggy Rotundo, D-Lewiston, would require a 72-hour waiting period after the sale of a firearm, with exceptions for sales between family members, if the firearm being sold is a curio, relic or antique, or if the sale does not require a background check under federal or state law.

Supporters of the waiting period pointed to it as an effective tool for mitigating suicides and gun violence, saying a waiting period gives people a chance to cool off or get the help they might need.

“Suicide is preventable and a waiting period to purchase a firearm can provide a cooling off period for someone in crisis,” said Rep. Vicki Doudera, D-Camden. “It can help save lives.”

Opponents raised concerns about domestic violence victims and other people not being able to protect themselves, although domestic violence advocates told a legislative committee last month that a waiting period does not cause victims to be unsafe and that access to firearms can actually increase the likelihood that a victim is killed by an abusive partner. Opponents also raised concerns about infringement on Second Amendment rights.

“I’m checking my Maine Constitution, and I see that every citizen has a right to keep and bear arms and this right being questioned for 72 hours is not how it reads,” said Rep. Steven Foster, R-Dexter.

This story will be updated.

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