The Maine State Legislature passed a universal background checks bill on June 19th in what was considered a surprise vote. The bill had been defeated twice before in the State Senate.
In a surprise vote Wednesday, the Maine Senate passed a bill that creates civil penalties for those who sell guns in private sales to people who are prohibited from having them.
The legislation imposes a civil fine of $500 if a gun seller does not perform a background check and the buyer is later discovered to be a prohibited person.
The bill, LD 1240, was first watered down by the Senate, but on Tuesday, the House of Representatives sent the original measure back to the Senate. The Senate approved the bill on a 18-17 vote, with two rural Democrats joining Republicans in the minority on the measure.
Fortunately for Maine gun owners, Gov. Paul LePage (R-ME) was true to his word and vetoed the bill. He said the bill only impacted honest gun owners and for that reason he vetoed the bill.
Yesterday, the Maine State House voted to uphold the governor’s veto in a 77-71 vote. The gun prohibitionists in the State House are now threatening to go to a referendum to pass the measure and cite the misleading poll number from an anti-gun push poll.
The background-check bill, L.D. 1240, sponsored by Rep. Mark Dion, D-Portland, would have created a civil violation for selling a gun to a person prohibited from owning a gun, such as a convicted felon.
It originally was a sweeping bill that would have mandated background checks before all gun purchases. His bill passed narrowly in the Legislature earlier this month, and the House upheld the veto in a 77-71 vote on Wednesday.
In his veto message, LePage said the bill was focused “on those who would choose to obey the law, and for that reason I believe it misses the target.”
“This is an issue that may need to go straight to our citizens,” Dion said in a statement after the vote. “The governor described my bill as ‘well-meaning,’ but public policy requires more than intentions, it requires action.”
Dion was referring to a potential referendum on the matter: J. Thomas Franklin, president of Maine Citizens Against Handgun Violence, a pro-gun control group, said last week that it is considering bringing a citizens’ initiative to ask Maine voters to decide on mandatory background checks in 2014.
Searching the Maine register of lobbyists, I cannot find any that represent Mayor Bloomberg’s Illegal Mayors nor any that represent other gun prohibitionist group. I am going to assume that Bloomberg didn’t employ his full court press like he did in Colorado and Nevada.
Still that a state like Maine with a long tradition of protecting gun rights would have even considered such a bill – much less passed one – is disappointing. Maine, like the rest of northern New England, is changing and, in my opinion, not for the better.