AUGUSTA, Maine — Maine legislative leaders approved Thursday gun-related bills for consideration in 2024 that will carry extra significance after last month’s Lewiston mass shooting.
The Legislative Council, a 10-member panel of top lawmakers, met on Thursday to green-light new measures for consideration. In even-numbered years, members can only submit legislation that a majority of leaders deems an “emergency.”
That massacre led some of the Democrats who control the Maine Legislature to float gun-control measures that have consistently been rejected in the state. Two measures on that subject advanced along party lines at the council meeting at the State House on Thursday.
One from Sen. Anne Carney, D-Cape Elizabeth, would require the destruction of all firearms forfeited to law enforcement. Current law only requires the destruction of seized guns used in homicides. The other one, from Rep. Vicki Doudera, D-Camden, who co-chairs the Gun Safety Caucus. Her bill would allow people to put themselves on a list preventing them from purchasing firearms, which she said could prevent suicides.
It remains unknown how many additional bills that lawmakers may have drafted after the shooting that could receive consideration next year and whether they deal with issues such as assault-style rifles or Maine’s “yellow flag” law that allows police to seize guns from people deemed dangerous by a health professional and judge.
Legislative staff said it is confidential how many bills were introduced in the wake of the shooting that may relate, for example, to firearms or mental health. Top lawmakers will meet again in November and December to decide whether or not to allow more bills in.
At least one after-deadline bill comes from Rep. Laurel Libby, R-Auburn, and would repeal Certificate of Need regulations for inpatient and outpatient mental health care providers in Maine. Libby argued that in the wake of the mass shooting and warning signs about the gunman’s mental state, repealing the regulations could provide additional care to those in need.
Several Democrats have argued for banning assault-style weapons and upgrading Maine’s current “yellow flag” law to a so-called red flag law that allows family and police to petition a court to take away firearms from people deemed at risk of harming themselves or others, while gun-rights advocates and some Maine police chiefs said the yellow flag process is working.