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Tuesday, April 16, 2024

What are Maine’s gun laws?

Washington — At least 18 people were killed and 13 were injured in mass shootings at a bowling alley and restaurant in Lewiston, Maine, on Wednesday, and law enforcement is continuing to search for the suspected gunman.

The shooting has led to renewed calls from President Biden for Congress to pass legislation banning semi-automatic weapons and high-capacity magazines, and enact universal background checks, though such measures are unlikely to be considered by the GOP-led House.

Still, Mr. Biden has repeatedly implored the divided Congress to act and on Thursday, he declared “this is the very least we owe every American who now bears the scars — physical and mental — of this latest attack.”

In Maine, state lawmakers considered several measures this year that would have strengthened the state’s gun laws, though unsuccessfully.

The Maine House approved in June a measure that would have tightened background checks for private gun sales, but the proposal failed in the state Senate. The state House this summer also passeda bill that would have banned bump stocks and other rapid-fire modification devices, but it, too, was rejected by the Maine Senate.

Legislation that would’ve imposed a 72-hour waiting period after a gun sale was rejected by both chambers of the Maine legislature.

A Maine law enacted in 2015 allows people who are at least 21 years old to carry a concealed handgun without a permit. Those between the ages of 18 and 20 are required to have a permit to carry concealed, according to state law.

But it remains illegal to have a gun in public places including courthouses, state parks, Acadia National Park, schools, federal buildings and the state capitol area in Augusta, and on private property where it’s barred by the owner. Guns are also prohibited in “establishments licensed for on-premises consumption of liquor” if the establishment has signs posted that bar or limit firearms, which patrons are likely to see, or if a patron has a gun while intoxicated.

People who have been involuntarily committed to a hospital because they were found to be a danger to themselves or others are prohibited from having firearms without a permit under Maine law, as are those who have been convicted of a crime punishable by at least a year in prison. For gun sellers that are not licensed dealers, there is no law requiring a background check on the buyer of a firearm.

Maine allows for the purchase of certain assault-style weapons and high-capacity magazines, and does not have on the books an extreme-risk protection order law. Also known as red-flag laws, the measures allow law enforcement or family members to seek an order from a judge to temporarily restrict a person’s access to guns if they’re deemed to be a risk to themselves or others.

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