MGSC Legislative Report 2017

128th Legislature, First Regular Session
 

LD 1370: Campus Carry
 

MGSC Position: Opposed. Final Status: Defeated

READ MGSC's TESTIMONY

LD 1370 was the gun lobby’s attempt to take away the ability of public universities in Maine to decide whether or not to allow guns on campus. This bill would have allowed anyone over 21 to carry a concealed weapon to school — no permit, no background check, no training required. 18-year-olds with a permit would have been allowed to carry a concealed weapon to class.

Research shows that guns on college campuses will lead to increased gun violence - including accidents, suicides, domestic violence, and sexual assault. We successfully argued that it should be left up to each individual college community in Maine to decide what is best for the safety and security of its students, staff, and faculty. A firearms policy that works for Orono may not work for Portland or Presque Isle, but the gun lobby in Augusta shouldn't get to dictate policies that threaten critical debate & the free exchange of ideas.

The Committee on Education and Cultural Affairs voted 11 to 2 AGAINST campus carry after hearing testimony from our coalition that included the University of Maine System, Maine Community College System, Maine Maritime Academy, Maine Education System, Maine Medical Association, Maine Psychological Association, Maine Council of Churches, Maine Mom’s Demand Action, National Association of Social Workers, and dozens of students, parents, and teachers.

The House voted AGAINST the bill 90 to 56 and the Senate voted against the bill without a roll call vote.  

Presented by Rep. Cebra of Naples. Cosponsored by Sen. Brakey of Androscoggin, Rep. Espling of New Gloucester, Rep. Harrington of Sanford, Rep. Kinney of Knox, Rep. Lockman of Amherst, Rep. O'Connor of Berwick, Rep. Sanderson of Chelsea, Rep. Timberlake of Turner, Sen. Davis of Piscataquis.


LD 44: Lowering Permitless Concealed Carry Age to 18
 

MGSC Position: Opposed. Final Status: Defeated

READ MGSC’s TESTIMONY

LD 44 would have allowed 18-year-olds to carry a concealed handgun without a permit, training or a background check. In 2015, the Maine legislature eliminated the requirement for individuals over the age of 21 to obtain a permit to carry concealed firearms. Currently, individuals must be 21 years of age to carry a concealed handgun. LD 44 would have lowered this age to 18.

Compared to individuals in their mid-twenties, 18-year-olds are more impulsive, thrill-seeking, and vulnerable to negative influences such as peer pressure. During these pivotal years, adolescents also typically begin experimenting with alcohol and drugs – both important risk factors for gun violence. It had only been 18 months since Maine’s permitless concealed carry experiment went into effect, yet the gun lobby tried once again to weaken our concealed carry laws.

The Joint Standing Committee on Criminal Justice and Public Safety voted 11 to 1 AGAINST campus carry after hearing testimony from our coalition that included the Maine Medical Association, Maine Chiefs of Police Association, Maine Psychological Association, Maine Children’s Alliance, Maine Mom’s Demand Action, National Association of Social Workers, and dozens of parents, doctors, and gun violence survivors.

Both the House and Senate voted AGAINST the bill without a roll call vote.  
Presented by Sen. Brakey of Androscoggin. Cosponsored by Rep. Cebra of Naples, Rep. O'Connor of Berwick, Rep. Sanderson of Chelsea.


LD 1175: Extreme Risk Protection Order
 

MGSC Position: Support. Final Status: Defeated

READ MGSC’s TESTIMONY

LD 1175 would have authorized judges to temporarily suspend access to firearms by a person in emotional crisis by issuing an Extreme Risk Protection Order (ERPO). An ERPO empowers families and law enforcement to prevent tragedies and save lives. This tool allows family members and law enforcement to ask a judge to temporarily suspend a person’s access to firearms if there is documented evidence that an individual poses a serious threat of violence to themselves or others. Family members and law enforcement are often in the best position to recognize the warning signs of violence and creating an ERPO will provide a tool to prevent a tragedy before it’s too late.

More people die in Maine from suicide than homicide, with someone dying from suicide every 39 hours. In Maine, suicide is the second leading cause of death for individuals ages 15-34. Most individuals who commit suicide and mass shootings exhibit signs of their intentions, but current laws prevent families who are the first to notice warning signs from taking life-saving action.

The Joint Standing Committee on Criminal Justice and Public Safety voted 7 to 6 AGAINST this bill. The close vote was surprising because two votes against the bill came from Sen. Scott Cyrway and Sen. Kimberly Rosen who cosponsored an identical bill two years ago. The House voted AGAINST the bill 68 to 81. The Senate voted AGAINST the bill without a roll call vote.

Presented by Sen. Dion of Cumberland. Cosponsored by Rep. Warren of Hallowell, Sen. Chipman of Cumberland, Sen. Hill of York, Rep. Reckitt of South Portland, Rep. Sanborn of Portland, Rep. Spear of South Thomaston.


LD 351:  Allows Municipalities to Prohibit Weapons at Municipal Public Proceedings and Voting Places


MGSC Position: Support. Final Status: Defeated.

Read MGSC’s backgrounder

Rep. John Spear introduced LD 351 by saying  “I have never understood the rationale as to why Maine law prohibits weapons in this Statehouse, on this entire campus, and at county courthouses, but not at municipal buildings.”

This bill would have reinstated local control by allowing each community to decide whether they want to allow or prohibit guns at the polls and municipal public proceedings. We believe public safety laws should be left to each community to decide, rather than by lawmakers sitting in a Statehouse surrounded by metal detectors.

The Joint Standing Committee on Criminal Justice and Public Safety voted 8 to 4 in SUPPORT of LD 351 after hearing testimony from MGSC, Maine Municipal Association, Maine Sheriff’s Association. The House voted in SUPPORT of the bill 74 to 73. The Senate voted AGAINST the bill 25 to 10.

Presented by Rep. Spear of South Thomaston. Cosponsored by Senator Millett of Cumberland, Sen. Miramant of Knox, Rep. Fecteau of Biddeford, Rep. Babbidge of Kennebunk, Rep. Blume of York, Rep. Beebe-Center of Rockland, Rep. Kumiega of Deer Isle, Rep. Rykerson of Kittery


LD 1469: Punishing Businesses and Homeowners that Prohibit Firearms
 

MGSC Position: Opposed. Final Status: Defeated.

READ MGSC’s TESTIMONY.

LD 1469 was an extreme bill that threatened the right of businesses and homeowners to decide if they want to allow or restrict the carrying of firearms by customers and guests. Under the bill, if a business or homeowner chose to prohibit guns on their property, they could be sued if anything bad happens on their property such as a wild animal attack, or "artificial and natural hazards." The language was so written so broadly that a business or homeowner could be sued even if there was no way a gun could have made a difference.

We should respect the rights of property owners who sincerely believe that their families are safer without guns in the home. Encouraging expensive and contentious litigation between friends and neighbors is a poor way to promote public safety. The best academic evidence shows that more people carrying concealed weapons leads to increased rates of aggravated assaults and murder. Businesses and homeowners should be free to decide how best to protect their customers and employees from gun violence.

The Joint Standing Committee on Criminal Justice and Public Safety voted unanimously AGAINST LD 1469. It did not receive a vote in the House or Senate.

Presented by Rep. Kinney of Knox. Cosponsored by Rep. Ward of Dedham, Sen. Brakey of Androscoggin, Rep. Cebra of Naples, Rep. O'Connor of Berwick, Rep. Skolfield of Weld, Rep. Stetkis of Canaan, Rep. Sutton of Warren, Rep. Wood of Greene, Sen. Davis of Piscataquis.


LD 1332: Prohibit Possession of Black Powder and Muzzle-loading Firearms by Certain Persons
 

MGSC Position: Supported. Final Status: Enacted.

Under current law, the Maine Commissioner of Public Safety can grant a felon prohibited from possessing firearms under federal law a permit to own a black powder gun. Rep. Lloyd Herrick presented LD 1332 to repeal this prohibition and said, “It's common knowledge that felons are prohibited from having a firearm. I believe the intent of this prohibition is to prevent criminals with a dangerous past from having the right to a firearm. Unfortunately, I believe a black powder weapon for all intents and purposes is a firearm, just as capable as any of the other prohibited firearms. I consider this to be a dangerous issue to public safety and this particular situation has actually occurred in my district. Preventing felons with a dangerous past from obtaining capable weapons, such as a black powder weapon should be addressed.”

The Joint Standing Committee on Criminal Justice and Public Safety voted unanimously in SUPPORT of LD 1332. The House and Senate voted to support the bill without a roll call vote and the bill became law without Gov. LePage’s signature.

Presented by Rep. Herrick of Paris. Cosponsored by Sen. Cyrway of Kennebec, Rep. Corey of Windham, Rep. Dillingham of Oxford, Rep. Gerrish of Lebanon, Rep. Longstaff of Waterville, Rep. Marean of Hollis, Rep. Reckitt of South Portland, Rep. Warren of Hallowell, Sen. Diamond of Cumberland.


LD 988: Guns in School Parking Lots


MGSC Position: Opposed. Final Status: Defeated.

LD 988 would have allowed guns in parking lots of all public schools and some private schools in Maine. The Maine Gun Safety Coalition does not believe guns belong in schools - even their parking lots. Every month, we see dozens of stories about gun violence in school parking lots, including in Maine.

The Maine School Boards Association and Maine School Superintendents Association opposed this bill. The Maine School Management Association testified, "We also believe that an absolute prohibition of guns on schools grounds except for the few exceptions already in law make a tragedy a little less likely to happen. And, it maintains that bright line to discourage future encroachments on a law, which is not a panacea, but one step in protecting our children from what is no longer the unimaginable." The State of Maine Department of Education also raised several concerns about LD 988.

On May 11, 2017, the Committee on Education and Cultural Affairs voted 9 to 4 AGAINST guns in school parking lots. Unhappy with the bipartisan opposition to the bill in the education committee, the bill sponsors had the Senate vote on June 21, 2017 to send the bill to the criminal justice committee in hopes of a more friendly reception. The following day, the House voted 75 to 70 to keep it in the education committee. Later that day, the Senate voted to insist that the bill be sent to criminal justice. The bill was tabled until June 27 when the Housed voted 79 to 66 to indefinitely postpone the bill. The Senate voted the same day to indefinitely postpone the bill.

Presented by Rep. Herrick of Paris. Cosponsored by Sen. Cyrway of Kennebec, Rep. Corey of Windham, Rep. Dillingham of Oxford, Rep. Gerrish of Lebanon, Rep. Longstaff of Waterville, Rep. Marean of Hollis, Rep. Reckitt of South Portland, Rep. Warren of Hallowell, Sen. Diamond of Cumberland.


LD  1401: An Act To Allow Nonviolent Felons To Own Firearms at the Court's Discretion


MGSC Position: Neither for nor against. Final Status: Defeated.

READ MGSC's TESTIMONY.

Under current law, an individual is prohibited from possessing a firearm if they have been convicted of a Maine or federal law that is punishable by imprisonment for a term exceeding one year. LD 1401 will have allowed a court to let nonviolent felons to buy and possess guns at a judge's discretion.

Maine Gun Safety Coalition supports establishing a process for the restoration of firearm rights. State and federal prohibitions on firearm possession are intended to keep guns out of the hands of individuals at elevated risk for committing violence with a firearm. If someone wrote bad checks or had youthful indiscretions but did their time and have been law-abiding members of society, we feel they should have an opportunity to enjoy Maine’s long tradition of hunting.

We applauded Senator Jackson for taking the leadership on this issue, but could not support the bill as it was presented because the wording was  too wide in scope, did not require offenders to desist from criminal activity for any length of time before getting their guns back, and it lacked language providing guidelines for judges to assess if someone is still a threat. We worked with the sponsors to introduce new language to help this bill achieve its goal of establishing a mechanism for allowing our rehabilitated community members to regain basic constitutional rights. However, time was not on our side and the bill did not make it out of committee.

The Joint Standing Committee on Criminal Justice and Public Safety voted unanimously against LD 574 and it did not make it to the floor for a vote.

Presented by Senate Democratic Leader Troy D. Jackson of Aroostook. Cosponsored by Rep. Martin of Eagle Lake, Sen. Diamond of Cumberland, Sen. Mason of Androscoggin, Rep. Grohman of Biddeford, and Hanington of Lincoln.


LD 1154: Voluntary Method of Determining Whether a Purchaser of a Firearm Is Prohibited from Possessing a Firearm without a Background Check


MGSC Position: Neither for nor against. Final Status: Defeated.

LD 1154 would have allowed individuals to ask the Maine Secretary of State to verify they are not disqualified from possessing a firearm when applying for a driver's license. If the applicant is not disqualified, the license will have a special mark. The bill's sponsor hopes this voluntary method will aid in private gun sales. MGSC supported the intentions behind the bill, but believe we already have a preferred “voluntary method of determining whether a purchaser of a firearm is prohibited from possessing a firearm” - conducting private sales at a federally licensed firearm dealer and asking the store to run a background check.

The bill’s sponsor withdrew the bill and it died in the Joint Standing Committee on Criminal Justice and Public Safety.

Presented by Rep. Casas of Rockport. Cosponsored by Sen. Miramant of Knox, Rep. Hanington of Lincoln, Rep. of Bar Harbor, Sen. Carpenter of Aroostook, Sen. Gratwick of Penobscot.


LD 9: Prohibits the Creation of a Firearms Owner Registry


MGSC Position: Neither for nor against. Final Status: Enacted.

READ MGSC’s TESTIMONY.

As originally drafted, LD 9 would have prohibited a Maine government agency from creating lists of gun owners or privately owned firearms. MGSC testified in opposition to the bill because it was poorly written and had dangerous unintended consequences.

Maine Gun Safety Coalition was not advocating for the creation of a registry of law-abiding firearm owners, but we could not support this bill because it will have dangerous, unintended consequences. The broad language in this bill will make it difficult for law enforcement to keep guns out of the hands of domestic abusers who are prohibited under state and federal law from possessing firearms. It will also make it more difficult for law enforcement to track stolen guns, comply with court orders, and accept the voluntary surrender of a firearm by its owner. This would have prohibited Maine agencies from issuing concealed gun permits and hunting licenses - restricting second amendment rights.

We recommended that the bill language be redrafted to focus exclusively on the issue the sponsors are trying to address, rather than unnecessarily tying the hands of our brave public servants who share our desire to create a safer Maine. After participating in a legislative work session and amplifying the concerns of the law enforcement community, the bill was amended. The amended bill read, “Notwithstanding any other provision of law to the contrary, a government agency of this State or a political subdivision of this State may not keep or cause to be kept a comprehensive registry of privately owned firearms and the owners of those firearms within its jurisdiction.”

MGSC did not take a position on the amended bill because it is purely symbolic without any real-world consequences. There was no comprehensive registry in Maine, and no one has been advocating for the creation of one. Furthermore, the current legislature cannot stop a future legislature from passing a law establishing a registry.

The Joint Standing Committee on Criminal Justice and Public Safety voted 8 to 4 in support of amended LD 9. The House voted 122 to 24 in SUPPORT and the Senate voted 35-0 in SUPPORT of the bill. Governor LePage signed the bill on June 12, 2017.

Presented by Rep. Corey of Windham. Cosponsored by Sen. Diamond of Cumberland, Sen. Collins of York, Sen. Cushing of Penobscot, Rep. Martin of Sinclair, Rep. Herrick of Paris, Rep. Stanley of Medway, Rep. Alley of Beals, Rep. Espling of New Gloucester, Rep. Pierce of Dresden


LD 574: Eliminates Duty to Inform Law Enforcement of the Presence of a Concealed Handgun if Detained


MGSC Position: Oppose. Final Status: Defeated.

LD 574 would have eliminated the requirement that a person in possession of a concealed handgun without a permit to inform the law enforcement officer of the presence of the weapon during an arrest, routine traffic stop or other detainment. MGSC testified that this puts our law enforcement at increased risk and should be defeated.

The Joint Standing Committee on Criminal Justice and Public Safety voted unanimously against LD 574 and it did not make it to the floor for a vote.

Presented by Sen. Brakey of Androscoggin. Cosponsored by Rep. Martin of Eagle Lake, Rep. Cebra of Naples, Rep. Farrin of Norridgewock, Rep. Marean of Hollis, Rep. Stetkis of Canaan


LD 350: Repeals Requirement that Gun Dealers Show Law Enforcement Firearms Transaction Record


MGSC Position: Neither for nor against. Final Status: Enacted.

LD 350 repeals the law that requires a firearms dealer who sells, lets, or loans a firearm to make a copy of the form the dealer must keep pursuant to federal law and to show that copy to a law enforcement officer or prosecuting attorney. MGSC supported the main intention of the bill, which was to remove a little-known requirement that gun dealers make and retain a copy of background check Form 4473. A copy of the form is not necessary and most gun dealers do not currently follow this requirement.

We supported eliminating this unnecessary requirement, but expressed concerns about language that would have made it difficult for law enforcement to solve gun crimes in a timely manner by restricting their access to the form. We worked with legislators and the Maine State Police to find a compromise that achieves the sponsor's goals without compromising public safety.

The Joint Standing Committee on Criminal Justice and Public Safety voted unanimously in SUPPORT of LD 350. The House and Senate voted in SUPPORT of the bill without a roll call vote. Governor LePage signed the bill on May 26, 2017.

Presented by Rep. Harvell of Farmington


LD 343: Prohibits Firearm Discharge Near State-owned Boat Launching Ramps


MGSC Position: Support. Final Status: Enacted.

This bill makes discharging a firearm within 300 feet of a state-owned boat launching ramp a Class E crime if a sign is posted.

The Joint Standing Committee on Criminal Justice and Public Safety voted unanimously in SUPPORT of the bill. The House and Senate voted in SUPPORT of the bill without a roll call vote. Governor LePage signed the bill on May 19, 2017.

Presented by Sen. Davis of Piscataquis. Cosponsored by Rep. Martin of Sinclair, Sen. Dow of Lincoln, Sen. Saviello of Franklin, and Rep. Black of Wilton


LD 352: Gun Locks with New Firearm Sales


MGSC Position: Support. Final Status: Defeated.

LD 352 would have required a firearm dealer to sell a gun lock with every new firearm the retail dealer sells. Trigger locks are an inexpensive safety device that enclose the trigger guards of most guns so that the trigger cannot be pulled. Trigger locks prevent accidental discharge by children, theft, and fatal suicides. Learn more about Maine Gun Safety Coalition’s Free Trigger Locks Program.  

The Joint Standing Committee on Criminal Justice and Public Safety voted 8 to 2 to refer the bill to the taxation committee. The House and Senate voted to accept the minority report of “ought not to pass” without a roll call vote.

Presented by Rep. Rykerson of Kittery. Cosponsored by Reps. Ackley of Monmouth, Alley of Beals, Cooper of Yarmouth, Hymanson of York, Schneck of Bangor, Spear of South Thomaston, Sen. Chipman of Cumberland, Sen. Dion of Cumberland


LD 595: Prohibits a Law Enforcement Officer from Confiscating a Firearm under Certain Conditions
 

MGSC Position: Opposed. Final Status: Defeated.

This bill prohibits a law enforcement officer from ordering a subordinate officer to seize or confiscate a firearm or firearm accessory or ammunition in the possession of a resident of Maine. Sponsor Rep. Guerin said she submitted the bill because of widespread gun confiscation during Hurricane Katrina, a myth spread by the NRA.

The Maine Municipal Association opposed the bill and testified, “It is unacceptable to place the law enforcement community in the middle of a state level disagreement with federal policies. Law enforcement officers should have the full support of state leaders, rather than worry that they will be assessed fines and charged with crimes for simply doing their jobs.”

The Joint Standing Committee on Criminal Justice and Public Safety voted unanimously AGAINST LD 595. The bill did not get a floor vote.

Presented by Rep. Guerin of Glenburn. Cosponsored by Rep. Bradstreet of Vassalboro, Rep. Cebra of Naples, Rep. Johansen of Monticello, Rep. Marean of Hollis, Rep. Reed of Carmel, Rep. Sutton of Warren, Sen. Rosen of Hancock.