PORTLAND, Maine — Gun control advocates in Maine are vowing to keep pushing for tighter gun controls despite the failure of a flurry of proposals to move forward during the coming legislative session.
Democrats proposed several changes to the state’s gun laws for the session that begins in January, but the Legislative Council rejected most of them and tabled one. Proposals need the approval of the Legislative Council to move on to legislative committees and the full statehouse.
The Maine chapter of Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America said the proposals would have protected children from potential school shootings and gun accidents in the home. The group said in a statement that the council’s decision could have “deadly consequences.”
One proposal, which failed by a vote of 4-6, would have amended laws about the definitions of child endangerment to include allowing children access to loaded firearms. Another focused on shoring up school security.
But Republican Sen. Jeffrey Timberlake, who sits on the Legislative Council, said the proposals didn’t rise to the level of emergency legislation, which is the purpose of the session. The 10-member Legislative Council includes six Democrats, and the bills failed with the help of opposition from both parties.
“Most of them had been heard in some form or another, through referendums or through other bills that have already been presented in the last four years,” Timberlake said.
Maine gun control advocates have also suffered setbacks at the polls in recent years. A proposal to require background checks for gun sales failed in a public 2016 vote. David Trahan, executive director of the Sportman’s Alliance of Maine, said the pushback against new controls shows Maine’s current laws are already working in the state, which has little violent crime.
“That national agenda just doesn’t work here. It comes down to this simple statement: We can govern ourselves,” Trahan said.
One of this year’s defeated proposals, offered by Democratic Rep. Vicki Doudera of Camden, was designed to ban bump stocks. It went down by a count of 1-9 in an Oct. 23 vote by the Legislative Council.
Doudera, who also proposed the child endangerment bill, said she is disappointed the bills didn’t move forward, but she believes the state’s gun safety movement will regroup.
“It’s not infringing on anybody’s rights. It’s just trying to keep Maine kids safer,” she said.