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Setting the Record Straight: Maine Governor Promoting Anti-Gun Proposals

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In a recent news story, we mentioned Maine Gov. Janet Mills and her support for gun control, then mentioned a few bills that weren’t her proposals. We corrected that report for accuracy’s sake, but that doesn’t detract from the fact that Gov. Mills has indeed made several anti-gun proposals of her own this year. Given that fact, it is unclear of those currently proposed in Maine, which she may sign into law or veto if passed by the state House and Senate.

In her January 30 state-of-the-state address, Gov. Mills proposed several schemes that would infringe on the rights of law-abiding gun owners while likely not reducing violent crime or firearm deaths.

One example is Gov. Mills’ proposal to change the state’s “yellow-flag” law to a “red-flag” law. The governor claims the change would “close the gap” in the law by allowing law enforcement to seek the approval of a judge, in unusual circumstances, to take a person into protective custody. If then deemed dangerous by a medical practitioner and judge, law enforcement could remove their weapons, pending a full hearing before a court.

The proposal is a dangerous one, according to Laura Whitcomb, head of the organization Gun Owners of Maine.

“If you have your firearms removed from you under our current community protection order, or also known as the ‘yellow flag,’ they’re changing the amount of time that they have to give you a hearing from 14 days to 30 days, which is a long period of time,” Whitcomb said. “We’re finding that the issue isn’t necessarily with the way that our current law is written, but rather with the ability of law enforcement to enforce it, which is not a gun issue, that’s a funding issue. So, these lawmakers need to go back through and look at their budget and appropriately fund law enforcement in Maine.”

Another of the governor’s proposals would require any sale of a firearm that is advertised—through Facebook, Craigslist, Uncle Henry’s, a gun show or other means—to be checked against the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS).

“Gov. Mills seems to think, based on her address and her statements, that you can buy firearms on Facebook marketplace, which you cannot,” Whitcomb said. “So, what she’s trying to do is make it so that if you put forth any type of electronic ad or advertise on Craigslist—anything like that—you would have to seek a background check in order to transfer that firearm to another person. The other thing that it addresses is gun shows. FFLs at gun shows already do background checks, so that’s redundant. And I think it demonstrates an ignorance of the law when it comes to how gun shows actually work.”

Yet another of the governor’s proposals would make private sales of guns go through the NICS background check system. And it would change the wording of the current law from “willfully” or “knowingly” to adding the world “recklessly” when transferring firearms to a prohibited person.

“She says that it’s not ‘universal’ background checks, but now if you knowingly or intentionally transfer a firearm to a prohibited person in Maine it’s illegal,” Whitcomb said. “Well, they want to add the term ‘recklessly’ to that definition. Just like any other subjective word, a ‘reckless’ transfer of a firearm to somebody who is a gun-rights advocate might look very different to somebody like Sen. Carney, who is in the gun safety caucus. So, that term ‘recklessly’ is very problematic.”

Another part of that proposal would change the crime of ‘recklessly’ transferring a firearm to a prohibited person to a felony, rather than the misdemeanor charge it currently is.

“We don’t generally have an issue in Maine with people knowingly or intentionally transferring firearms to prohibited people,” Whitcomb said. “So, when you start changing things from misdemeanors to felonies, it’s just a solution in search of a problem.”

In the end, we made an error attributing a couple of anti-gun bills to Gov. Mills that she wasn’t directly involved with yet. However, have no doubt that she has plenty of anti-gun plans that she is not only involved with, but is actively promoting from her bully pulpit.

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