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May 1, 2024

In First Legislative Session Since the Mass Shooting in Lewiston, Lawmakers Enact Two Lifesaving Gun Violence Prevention Bills and Fund an Office of Gun Violence Prevention

AUGUSTA, ME – The Maine chapters of Moms Demand Action and Students Demand Action issued the following statement summarizing the laws enacted during the 2024 legislative session, which has been marked by tragedy and progress. In the first session since the mass shooting in Lewiston killed 18 and injured 13, lawmakers were hard at work to pass lifesaving gun safety legislation prompted by the tireless advocacy of gun violence prevention advocates. While Maine has been hesitant to pass gun violence legislation in recent legislative sessions, this year lawmakers made historic progress, enacting lifesaving measures to require background checks on firearm purchases, fund an office of violence prevention, and require 72-hour waiting periods between the purchase and acquisition of a firearm. 

“In the wake of tragedy after the mass shooting in Lewiston, we’re grateful to our lawmakers for taking action to protect our communities,” said Alisa Conroy Morton, a volunteer with the Maine chapter of Moms Demand Action. “The progress we made this year to pass background checks, fund an office of violence prevention, and require waiting periods for firearm purchases are critical first steps towards a safer future in Maine. This session, our lawmakers have proven that stronger gun safety laws are possible in Maine – now we’ll be back to continue working with them so that even more are enacted for years to come.”   

“The progress we made this legislative session has proven what we’ve known to be true for a long time in Maine: passing stronger gun safety laws isn’t just good policy–it’s good politics,” said Lianna Holden, a volunteer leader with the Freeport High School Students Demand Action chapter. “Maine has demonstrated what stronger leadership looks like in the wake of tragedy, while we’ve seen other states move to do the opposite. Through the advocacy of students like myself, we’ve worked with our lawmakers to take action on gun violence and we’ll continue building on that momentum to keep our communities safe.”

Following years of inaction on gun safety measures in Maine, lawmakers this year listened to the advocacy of their constituents and enacted several measures into law. In contrast, extremist lawmakers in other states across the country responded to instances of mass gun violence by weakening the state’s gun safety measures. Earlier this month in Iowa, Governor Kim Reynolds signed into law a measure to arm teachers and staff with firearms, months after a mass shooting took place at Perry High School on the first day of classes. Tennessee Governor Bill Lee signed a measure to arm teachers with firearms just one year after the mass shooting at Covenant High School killed six people, including three students and three school staff members.

Measures enacted by lawmakers in Maine this year include: 

  • LD 2224, SP0953, which 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, 
  • LD 2238, SP0958, which establishes a 72-hour waiting period between the purchase and transfer of a firearm; and
  • The 25 FY Budget, including funding to create an Office of Violence Prevention to fund and coordinate trauma-informed violence intervention efforts and educate the public on responsible gun ownership. 

Volunteers have been advocating tirelessly for these measures and several others, since the mass shooting in Lewiston just over six months ago reinforced how necessary stronger gun violence prevention measures were in the Pine Tree State. Unfortunately, Maine still lacks an extreme risk law that would allow family members and law enforcement to quickly seek a court order that separates a person in crisis from firearms. Additionally, Governor Mills also vetoed a bill that would have prohibited the possession and sale of rapid-fire conversion devices, which enable semiautomatic firearms to fire like machine guns. Volunteers will be back at the statehouse for legislative sessions to come to advocate in support of stronger gun safety measures like these that will protect communities in Maine. 

Research demonstrates that in states where elected officials have taken action to pass gun safety laws, fewer people die by gun violence, making it critical that lawmakers continue to enact critical gun violence prevention laws to save lives. Prior to this legislative session, Maine lagged behind on gun safety legislation and currently ranks 25th in the country for the strength of its gun laws. 

In an average year, 163 people die by guns in Maine. With a rate of 11.2 deaths per 100,000 people, Maine has the 39th-highest rate of gun deaths in the US. More information about gun violence in Maine is available here

To speak to a local volunteer with Moms Demand Action, a volunteer with Students Demand Action, or a policy expert, please don’t hesitate to reach out.

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