Gov. Janet Mills’ veto of a bill that would have banned bump stocks, the devices that make semi-automatic weapons function like machine guns, sends the wrong message at a sensitive time and leaves Mainers exposed to an unnecessary threat.

“There’s no excuse to allow everyday guns to mimic machine guns,” Nacole Palmer, the executive director of the Maine Gun Safety Coalition, told the Press Herald after the veto.

And that’s it exactly. There is no good excuse for the veto of L.D. 2086; not abstract hunting considerations, not our state’s rural nature, nothing.

In fact, a ban on the conversion mechanism known as the bump stock has tended to be the focus of politicians who shy away from supporting a ban on assault weapons; they say they’d prefer to go after the bump stock and other components instead. Politically, the proposal could be said to exist in a technical realm that’s seen as just safe enough. Ironically, that was arguably the issue here – that it was apparently so technical that it failed.

That Mills, according to her own veto letter, “strongly” agrees that bump stocks should be restricted, ought to have been enough for her to support this timely bill.

Gun safety is not a legislative arena in which it’s possible to appease all sides. Mills’ decision not to sign the bill mandating a 72-hour waiting period, which registered to this editorial board as the blowing of a valuable opportunity to really lead, was heavily criticized elsewhere. The Maine Policy Institute, the conservative think tank, found her equivocation-filled statement on the L.D. 2238 to be “disingenuous” and no more than “an attempt to give Mainers the impression that she takes gun rights seriously.”

In the end, we too found the statement disingenuous. The simple question of an hours-long waiting period between purchase and receipt, designed only with safety and people’s well-being in mind – and no skin off anybody’s nose – is simply not something to be “deeply conflicted” about. That is not a credible position. After Lewiston, it is a position that stings.

Both the ban on bump stocks and the implementation of the waiting period deserved Mills’ confident endorsement – and her signature.

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