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VICTORY FOR GUN SAFETY: Maine Governor Janet Mills Lets Lifesaving Waiting Periods Measure Become Law; Moms Demand Action, Students Demand Action Respond 

April 29, 2024

Governor Mills Also Vetoed Measure to Prohibit Rapid Fire Devices, Including Auto Sears and Bump Stocks

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 in response to Governor Janet Mills letting an additional gun safety measure to become law to establish a 72-hour waiting period between the purchase and transfer of a firearm. Today’s victory comes just a few days after Governor Mills signed a lifesaving gun safety measure into law that included provisions to require background checks on advertised sales and gun show sales. 

“Waiting periods before firearm purchases becoming law today builds on our victory from last week – both which are crucial steps forward to keep Maine safer from gun violence,” said Alisa Conroy Morton, a volunteer with the Maine chapter of Moms Demand Action. “We have been advocating for common sense gun safety measures for years, and we’re grateful that our lawmakers joined the fight with us to get them enacted and honor the lives taken in the mass shooting in Lewiston with action. Just as before, we’ll continue to come back to the statehouse every year to build on this progress. It doesn’t end here.”  

“The devastating mass shooting in Lewiston six months ago shed light on Maine’s weak gun safety laws and we haven’t stopped pushing for change since. With waiting periods becoming law today, our communities will be safer for it,” said Lianna Holden, a student with the Freeport High School Students Demand Action chapter. “My generation has made it clear that we won’t give up. Our lawmakers can expect us back here, on the first day of next session, to continue the work to make Maine even safer.” 

Governor Mills let LD 2238, SP0958, which establishes a 72-hour waiting period between the purchase and transfer of a firearm, become law without her signature today. Waiting period laws are associated with reduced suicide rates – as this time creates a critical buffer between someone having a suicidal crisis and access to a gun. 

Unfortunately, Governor Mills also vetoed LD 2086, SP0879 which includes a provision to prohibit the possession and sale of bump stocks, auto sears and other devices whose sole purpose is to enable semiautomatic firearms to fire like machine guns.

Last week, Governor Mills signed the LD 2224, SP 953 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. Governor Mills also signed the $127.4 million budget adjustment that creates a violence prevention office and funds suicide prevention resources.

In the months since the mass shooting in Lewiston killed 18 and wounded 13 others, volunteers with the Maine chapter of Moms Demand Action and Students Demand Action have increased their advocacy for stronger gun violence prevention legislation to be enacted in the state, including those that became law today and earlier this year. Volunteers also advocated in support of crisis intervention orders, also known as red flag laws, which 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. Although this legislation failed to make it to the Governor’s desk this year, volunteers will be back next year to continue advocating in support of this measure next year. 

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 process to make sure that families and law enforcement can get in front of a court to remove guns from someone in crisis as soon as possible. 

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.

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