Maine’s worst mass shooting took place in Lewiston on Wednesday night, when a gunman allegedly killed 18 people and injured 13 others in shootings at the Just-In-Time Recreation bowling alley and Schemengees Bar & Grille.
Police are now on a manhunt for a suspect they’ve identified as 40-year-old Robert R. Card II. The case could draw renewed attention to Maine’s gun laws, as police have said that Card had recently reported mental health issues and threatened to “shoot up” a military facility in Saco.
Maine stands out nationally as a liberal state with lax gun laws, in part due to a deep-seated hunting culture. It was the only state with a Democratic-controlled Legislature to have an F grade in the policy area from the pro-gun control group Giffords.
Here is an overview of those laws.
While federally licensed gun dealers are required to run background checks on buyers, Maine does not require them for private gun sales. Maine voters and lawmakers have rejected proposals to expand these checks.
Waiting periods for gun buyers
In line with the federal government, there are none. Maine lawmakers recently rejected a proposal to require a 72-hour waiting period for would-be gun buyers.
Maine allows most adults to carry concealed handguns without a permit under a law passed in 2015.
Red flag law
Maine does not have a so-called red flag law, which allows family members and police to petition courts to confiscate guns and other dangerous weapons from people found to be dangerous.
It did pass a less restrictive yellow flag law that took effect in 2020. It allows police and others to seek a court order for the temporary removal of guns if it’s supported by a professional medical opinion.
Restrictions on gun possession
Maine lawmakers have adopted many federal firearm prohibitions for certain classes of people. They include convicted felons and people who have been involuntarily committed to a hospital because they were likely to do harm.
State lawmakers recently passed a law that makes it a misdemeanor to provide firearms to people who can’t legally buy them – a practice known as straw purchasing. Federal law also bars straw purchases.
Maine does not bar the purchase of high-capacity magazines or some assault-style weapons designed for military use.