The Coalition for a Safer Maine brings together a broad range of groups and citizens united in their belief that Maine can be made safer for everyone while preserving our long heritage of responsible gun ownership. Modernizing Maine laws will better protect our school children and all Maine residents and will better ensure safe ownership and resale of guns, as will education, training and promotion of best practices. Together we can make Maine safer.
Coalition for a Safer Maine :: No More Newtown’s is supporting 3 legislative goals
I. UNIVERSAL BACKGROUND CHECKS
Currently only commercial gun dealers are required to perform a background check on gun buyers. They do so by a computerized system that allows the dealer to quickly confirm that the potential buyer is not on the FBI list of those (includes criminals and mentally ill) that are not allowed to buy or possess guns.
Unfortunately only 60% of all gun sales are made by commercial gun dealers. The remaining 40% of sellers are not licensed as commercial dealers because they do not sell guns on a regular basis. Those so-called private sellers are not required to perform background checks.
The Coalition believes that both commercial gun dealers and private sellers should be required to perform background checks. This will make it much harder for criminals to buy a firearm. To assist private sellers, commercial gun dealers should be required for a modest fee to perform background checks on behalf of private sellers.
The Coalition supports an exemption from the requirement of a background check for casual sales between family members.
Selling guns without a background check should be a Class D Misdemeanor.
II. BAN ON LARGE MAGAZINES
The Coalition supports legislation to limit the size of magazines that can be sold in Maine. For ten years from 1994 – 2004, the federal government limited the size of magazines to ten rounds of ammunition. Recently New York limited the size to seven rounds. In Maine, hunters are limited to five rounds.
In a number of high profile shootings, the number of injured or dead is directly proportional to the number of bullets the shooter can fire before re-loading. The Coalition supports prohibiting the sale of magazines in Maine that hold more than seven rounds of ammunition.
Selling a magazine that holds more than seven rounds should be a Class C Felony.
III. LIMIT ACCESS TO GUNS BY THOSE ADJUDICATED TO BE MENTALLY ILL
In some of the recent high profile shootings, there is considerable evidence that the shooter was mentally ill and therefore was prohibited from possessing a gun. Currently in Maine, those who have been involuntarily committed to a psychiatric hospital because of mental illness by a judge (so-called white paper process) are prohibited from possessing guns. The Coalition supports legislation to expand the prohibition to include the initial step of the involuntary commitment process. Specifically, as soon as a health care professional has certified that the person is likely to do serious harm and the individual is admitted to a psychiatric hospital for further evaluation (the so-called blue paper process), the person should be prohibited from possessing a gun.
In recognition of the fact that the blue paper is an emergency admission procedure that may not ultimately result in a judge ordering involuntarily commitment, the prohibition against possession of firearms should be temporary. Specifically, if requested by the individual, the District Court should be required, within three days, to hold a hearing to determine whether an individual that has been the subject of the blue paper process is mentally ill within the meaning of the federal Brady Act prohibiting those who have been adjudicated to be mentally ill from possessing a firearm.
Similarly, and consistent with federal regulations, the Coalition supports modifying the prohibition on gun possession so that a commitment under the white paper process does not result in a life-time ban on possessing a firearm. Those individuals should have the opportunity to have their rights to possess guns restored by demonstrating to a court that they are no longer a danger to themselves or others.
Finally, the Coalition supports legislation to require the Courts and Department of Public Safety to promptly report to the FBI National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS) the names of all citizens that have been adjudicated to be mentally ill in Maine within the meaning of the federal Brady Act.