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VICTORY FOR GUN SAFETY: Maine Governor Janet Mills Signs Lifesaving Gun Safety Background Check Measure Into Law; Everytown, Moms Demand Action, Students Demand Action Respond 


Two Gun Safety Measures to Prohibit Auto Sears and Implement Waiting Periods are Still on Governor Mills Desk

AUGUSTA, ME – Today, the Maine chapters of Moms Demand Action and Students Demand Action, both part of Everytown for Gun Safety’s grassroots network, released the following statement applauding Governor Janet Mills for signing a measure to strengthen gun safety in the state into law, which includes a provision to require background checks on advertised sales and gun show sales. Today comes six months after the deadliest mass shooting in Maine’s history in Lewiston killed 18 and wounded 13 others. 

“In the aftermath of last year’s horrific mass shooting in Lewiston, Maine lawmakers stepped up and passed critical legislation to prevent future tragedies — and now Governor Mills is joining them by signing a bill that requires background checks on many private gun sales,” said John Feinblatt, President of Everytown for Gun Safety. “Thanks to leaders in Maine, 22 states now have a background check law. With two other lifesaving measures still awaiting Governor Mills’ signature, this is just the beginning of what we can accomplish.”

“Maine just demonstrated what it looks like to meaningfully honor the lives taken by gun violence in the aftermath of tragedy,” said Angela Ferrell-Zabala, executive director of Moms Demand Action. “This victory is the result of tireless gun safety advocacy in the state — which started long before the tragic mass shooting in Lewiston last year. We’re grateful that Governor Mills listened to the demand for action from Mainers and signed a background check requirement into law. We hope she’ll build on this progress by signing the remaining bills on her desk into law.”

“Today is a victory for the gun violence prevention movement and a demonstration of what Mainers can accomplish to keep our communities safe when we work together,” said Vicki Farsaci, a volunteer with the Maine chapter of Moms Demand Action. “As our state continues to heal from the devastating tragedy of the shooting in Lewiston, we’re grateful to Governor Mills and our lawmakers for taking action to prevent another community from feeling this same pain by enacting a foundational gun safety measure. We know that waiting periods and a prohibition on auto sears will save lives in Maine and we urge Governor Mills to sign them too.” 

“For a state that lacked a number of basic gun safety laws before this session started, enacting a background check law serves as a major step towards creating a safer future in Maine,” said Lianna Holden, a volunteer leader with the Freeport Students Demand Action chapter. “Students have been at the legislature, day in and day out, fighting to get these bills across the finish line and it feels amazing to see that hard work pay off. But there’s still two bills awaiting Governor Mills’ signature – so we’ll continue to call for them to be enacted into law.”

These lifesaving measures signed into law today include LD 2224, SP0953, also known as the “Governor’s Bill,” and includes provisions to require background checks on advertised sales and gun show sales, increase funding for mental health resources across the state, and strengthen provisions in the yellow paper law. Earlier this week, Governor Mills signed the $127.4 million budget adjustment that includes funding for a violence prevention office and suicide prevention resources. 

Governor Mills still has two other gun safety bills on her desk. One bill included a provision to prohibit the sale, and possession of bump stocks, auto sears and other devices whose sole purpose is to enable semiautomatic firearms to fire like machine guns. The second bill, LD 2238, SP0958, established a 72-hour waiting period between the purchase and transfer of a firearm.

Volunteers advocated for these bills to become law this session, including at their annual advocacy day in March, while also advocating for a measure to implement crisis intervention orders. Similar to red flag laws in other states, this bill would allow family members and law enforcement to file for a court order in one step when they see warning signs that a loved one or a community member with access to guns is at risk of harming themselves or others. This legislation failed to make it to the Governor’s desk.

Experts believe that a comprehensive crisis intervention order, or Red Flag law, could have prevented the tragic mass shooting in Lewiston. In March, the Lewiston Commission released preliminary reports that reinforced the need for a crisis intervention order to make sure that families and law enforcement get a court order to remove guns from someone in crisis as soon as possible. Volunteers will be back next session to continue fighting for this lifesaving measure to become law in Maine. 

In an average year, 163 people die by guns in Maine. 89% of gun deaths in Maine are by firearm suicide. Gun violence costs Maine $2.3 billion each year, of which $17.3 million is paid by taxpayers. More information about gun violence in Maine is available here.