Maine gun control bills jammed up in committee

AUGUSTA — A bill that requires a criminal background check prior to the sale of a firearm at gun shows in Maine, along with several others aimed at gun control and gun-owner rights ended up in legislative limbo Monday.

The bills before the Legislature's Criminal Justice and Public Safety Committee either failed to garner the support they needed to be passed on to the full Legislature or were the victims of 6-6 votes that could be revoted in the weeks ahead.

"It might take a couple of work sessions but it's better to get the committee, as much as possible, in agreement with what we are doing," Sen. Stan Gerzofsky, D-Brunswick, said following a nearly four-hour work session on the bills.

Included in the list left more or less on the table is LD 267, sponsored by Gerzofsky. It would tighten Maine's gun show sales by requiring background checks.

The committee also discussed the merits of another controversial bill, LD 997, authored by state Senate President Justin Alfond, D-Portland.

Alfond's measure would place restrictions on ammunition feeding devices. The bill essentially limits the number of rounds any firearm can store in a magazine to 10, while prohibiting machine-gun style feeding devices.

Arguments on Alfond's bill were split between Republicans, who said restriction on magazine capacities wouldn't have prevented any of the recent mass shooting tragedies, and Democrats who said it would have made a difference.

Sen. Gary Plummer, R-Windham, said he could see holding off voting on some of the bills but didn't believe Alfond's measure was one that warranted being included in that group.

"Unless we are looking at this as a bargaining chip to try to get you to go along with what I want, I can't see any reason for not voting on this today," Plummer said.  

Plummer said he was hesitant to invoke the Sandy Hook situation but since others had, including national politicians, he wanted his view known.

"I don't believe if this law were in effect in that elementary school it would have saved one life," Plummer said. He also said there is some information suggesting the Sandy Hook shooter was using a high-capacity clip that jammed and that allowed some children to escape.  He said armed with just 10-round clips, the shooter may have killed more. 

"I don't see this bill doing anything for anyone and I don't see any element of this bill relating to elements of bills that we have heard or will be hearing," Plummer said.

But Rep. Joshua Plante, D-Berwick, had a vastly different view. 

Plante said there are various pillars in the overall gun debate and even though it may be unlikely those who have made up their minds on a particular issue would change them, there was meaning in looking at all the measures collectively.

"Maybe we have the potential for flushing out something new," Plante said. "Or maybe we can combine a couple of bills and fix the problem that we see existing within our own opinions but also within the law."

He also said he strongly objects to the idea that limiting magazine capacity would make no difference in mass shootings.

"If we stop these people from having the luxury of having 30 rounds — a hundred rounds," Plante said, "are we really doing a bad thing?"

Rep. Corey Wilson, R-Augusta, said he didn't believe most on the committee were going to "fundamentally" change their positions. "I know I'm not going to," he said.

But Gerzofsky also urged the committee to take a big picture look and not to toss out any of the proposed bills yet. He said with upward of 20 gun bills before the committee they should consider their work like putting together a big jigsaw puzzle.

"Taking the pieces off the table now gets you nothing except a missing hole," Gerzofsky said.

Also left on the docket is LD 1240, a bill offered by the House chairman of the committee, Rep. Mark Dion, D-Portland, that would promote the safe use and sale of firearms.

Dion is the former Cumberland County sheriff. His proposal includes a requirement for firearm safety training, a new prohibition from possession for those who have been admitted to a psychiatric hospital on an emergency basis and an increase in the fine for those using a fictitious name to purchase a firearm, boosting it from $50 to $1,000.

The bill also increases the minimum age for a concealed handgun permit, moving it from 18 to 21. It also requires background checks for gun-show and private-firearm sales.

In a series of votes Monday, the committee first voted 7-5 against LD 380, a bill that would have given law enforcement greater leeway in confronting somebody carrying a firearm openly.

The committee then split its vote evenly and mostly along party lines on several other bills or motions to table those bills.

Gerzofsky vowed the bills would not leave the committee until they had a chance to reconsider some of the votes taken Monday. He said it was likely several of the gun bills would be rolled into a comprehensive committee-sponsored bill or two.

"We might wind up with two bills, but certainly 20 is a little aggressive," Gerzofsky said. "I think this is a mosaic that we really have to understand, because I don't want to have to keep revisiting the subject."

The Maine House of Representatives is also expected to vote on a bill this week that would make permanent a temporary law that has sealed from the public record information on those with concealed handgun permits.

That bill, LD 345, is expected to be debated on the floor of the House either Tuesday or Wednesday.

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Jason Theriault's picture

Got a question

I have a question for all those who feel that Obama and Democrats are going to try and take your guns away.

Has this inspired you to buy a gun?

Jeffrey Le Doux's picture

Gun Control Legislation

I do not need to buy a gun since I already hunt, and I have the tools to do so. We who support the second amendment are not "pro murder" as you suggest Jason. We are pro freedom. As has been noted by others in this debate, an unarmed citizenry is bound in slave chains unable to protect itself.
Again, look back to the Englishman that killed one intruder and wounded a second with a shotgun. He now is serving a life sentence for his actions. Look also to the results of the gun grabbing administrations in Germany and Stalin's U.S.S.R.
the resulting tyranny is well documented. 6 million Jews in Germany and over 20 million in Russia, and they could not protect themselves against the government.
If the abrogation of our 2nd amendment rights continues we will be in the same situation. I for one do not want to see this happen.

Jeffrey Le Doux's picture

Gun Control Bills

Once again the anti-gun crowd is trying to remove our right to keep and bear arms guaranteed in the 2nd amendment of our Constitution.

Jason Theriault's picture

Once again

Once again, the Pro murder crowd is trying to make sure that they can continue to kill with maximum efficiency

Wait, you mean gross simplifications and exaggerations are no good? You mean that there are pros and cons to both sides, and that we should be discussing this like adults?

FRANK EARLEY's picture

Try as they may..........

Try as they may, I have yet to see one single argument against these gun control measures that amounts to anything more than just a lame excuse. As hard as those on the right try to insist they favor gun control legislation, it is becoming more and more obvious that they wish to have no gun control restrictions put in place.
85% to 90% of the citizens of this country are in favor of implementing gun control legislation. A very small percentage of the population feels that any restrictions at all are out of the question.
Again, who is it that is blocking the wishes of the majority? What I'd like to know is what ever happened to "majority rules"? For some self destructing mental reason, the Republican Party just can't seem to agree with anyone. When it comes to common sense laws, the "Right" is always "Wrong".
We as a country, just all but completed two wars. Two wars to protect our citizens from attacks from foreign soil. Attacks meant to destroy our way of life and democratic system. Yet we have right here in our own country, a small faction of our society, who has nothing better to do with their time, than engage in any activity they see fit, to slow down, or delay even eliminate the Democratic process.
I always thought it was all for the good of the people, I was wrong. It's whats good for the Republicans, the rest of us just don't count..........

Noel Foss's picture

Actually, public support is nowhere near that.

Recent polls have put that number closer to the 55% to 60% area. The most recent one from USA Today actually showed that it had dropped below 50%.

The reason that you saw so much support right after Newtown is because public opinion polls were being driven by emotion. Now that a few months have passed since that tragedy, people are thinking a little more reasonably and you're seeing less of the reactionary response that was so prominent immediately afterwards (from both sides). There's less clamoring for bans on guns and restrictions on capacities, and there's less panicked buying going on at the gun shops.

Honestly, I suspect that a big reason why there was no progress made on new gun regulations was because the reactions were too strong on both sides. You had a sudden massive push by the pro-control side, trying to capitalize on the tragedy to further some long-held agendas (Senator Feinstein has spent the better part of 30 years trying to shove a weapons ban through), and pro-gun folks felt threatened by the sudden attack on something that's widely viewed as a fundamental and constitutional right. Their reaction was to push back just as hard in the opposite direction, refusing to accept any changes (even ones that they'd normally be more accepting of, like UBC's) in case it led to a domino effect.

I'm sure that background checks will come up again, and if it's approached in a more calm and reasonable manner than the recent forceful rush then you'll see a lot more civility and consideration than we did this time around. Not to mention probably less name-calling and face-making.

Bob White's picture

Call out

Their you go again calling out the Republican party but isn't the Democrats the majority with a Democratic President? Apparently their must be left wing nuts not that hot on this issue. It should tell you something when the majority cant get something through. It seems pretty simple to me.

FRANK EARLEY's picture

This may come as a surprise to you.....

I'm not a Democrat, I'm not a Republican. What I am is a normal observant individual. Although I have had to defend the "normal" part of that last sentence from time to time, I still consider myself observant enough to spot a problem when I see it. As I see it, the Republicans keep coming to the forefront, when ever rational decisions are needed, and totally screw things up. I'm not imagining it, I'm not just making it up. You can deny the facts all you want, but the truth is right there. How far back does the car have to roll, before you realize it's in reverse??????????????????


It is simple

It's called the filibuster. In every civilized country in the world majority rules and that would be 51%. But in the clown Congress we need 60% to do anything at all. That's why they rate lower than head lice in the polls. It is also a peculiar characteristic of the Senate that a senator who represents 167,000 people can block the will of one who represents a million people. I dont' think our forefathers foresaw this outcome. At some point we will elect leaders who work for the citizens and the filibuster will be a quaint anomaly of history.

 's picture

don't let the survivalists win

The Party of criminals and traitors doesn't want anyone to be safe so they oppose commonsense laws to restrict firearms possession by criminals, traitors, or terrorists. Vote them out of office. They don't deserve to represent anyone.

PAUL MATTSON's picture




A medical anomaly

It would seem there is a rash of spinelessness going around our state house this year. Perhaps it's some form of spring fever. The dumbest argument of all is that we shouldn't have a law because criminals will not obey the law. By definition criminals don't obey the law. That doesn't mean we don't need laws. What we need is more stringent enforcement of the law. The alternative is to live in anarchy and I, for one, have no desire to live there.

David  Cote's picture

I understand the rights of gun enthusists...

I've heard the reasons why gun owners value their right to ownership. Through these posts it has been expressed by those same owners their concerns if the 2nd amendment is altered. But the one thing I haven't heard or read from gun owners is their answer to one basic question...How can anyone so interested in gun ownership not find it sensible for criminal background checks to be a part of the process to purchase a gun? Shouldn't safety be the paramount concern? Just because a certain criteria or condition exists at this moment doesn't mean it's the right way to go. At one time, in the not too distant past, smoking was permitted IN HOSPITALS! How warped was that? As gun enthusiasts, wouldn't you like to be secure in knowing background checks would maintain the safety levels gun ownership should demand? Anytime some clown with a record is allowed to buy a gun at a show without being checked, and then turns around and uses that gun for a violent purpose, not only succeeds in causing harm, but also casts a negative picture of lawful gun owners because the perception is gun owners are too wrapped up with their own rights. And outside of your rights, the rights of others don't seem to matter all that much. Background checks not only will help protect the public, those checks would end up protecting gun owner's rights as well. It makes no sense whatsoever not to conduct criminal background checks. I'm looking forward to some interesting, and hopefully, mature points.

Noel Foss's picture

Well, I can't speak for everyone, but...

I'm personally opposed to expanding them for several reasons.
1) Expanding background checks to gun shows isn't a particularly effective way of keeping guns out of the hands of criminals. Very few crooks buy their guns at a show (several studies have shown the number to be in the very low single digits, around 1-3%). Dealers typically make up the majority of gun show participants, and as such they're already required to perform a background check anyway. A common misconception among some people I've talked to seems to be that retailers aren't required to perform checks on sales made at gun shows, but it's inaccurate. Private sellers aren't currently required to do so, but they typically make up a fairly small percentage of the vendors present at a gun show.
2) The current background check system (NICS) is full of giant, gaping holes due to a lack of accurate reporting from the states on issues like mental health and criminal records. For instance, Seung-Hui Cho (the Virginia Tech shooter) was able to pass background checks at least twice, despite being adjudicated as mentally unfit. Frankly, I'd rather see a push among legislators to fix the problems with NICS before they start trying to expand it (I've made the comparison previously that it's akin to a new paint job on a crappy car; it looks good, but it's still just as unreliable)
3) The amount of prosecutions that result from violations of the current NICS system are woefully low. Sometimes denials for purchases are based on out-of-date or incorrect information (again due to the defects inherent to NICS), but more often they're for valid reasons. Despite that, the violators are very seldom prosecuted. This is due to a lack of funding to do so, as well as lacking the manpower to follow up on violations. But it's also that they're not being pursued (for instance, in 2009 the DOJ only prosecuted less than 1% of violations: despite the FBI reporting over 70,000 violations, 77 were prosecuted).
4) Much of the time the proposed legislation for expansions isn't limited to gun shows; it typically includes all private sales. That's often resisted by people in rural areas who view guns as tools for hunting or recreation. They typically resent having another regulation pushed on them by people who don't know anything about guns except for what they've been told by the mainstream media and by Hollywood (neither of which manage to consistently be particularly factual). People also tend to resent the idea that they can't sell a gun to their cousin, friend, or neighbor unless they both go through a background check, even if they've known that person for years. A lot of times they consider that sort of transaction to be none of the government's business.

Just my $.02, others probably have different reasons for their opposition.

JERRY ARIPEZ's picture

Another whopper. ..pants on fire yet?

Dealers typically make up the majority of gun show participants, and as such they're already required to perform a background check anyway.

That is one whole lot of DEALERS.....

2010 data:

Applications: 6,037,394
FBI denials: 72,659 (1.2 percent)
Appeals 16,513 (22.7 percent)
Successful appeals 3,491 (4.77 percent of denials)

Noel Foss's picture

Here, I'll change participants

to Vendors, so put it more in line with the previously made statement in there.

And prosecutions in 2010?
From your own link (
"In the end, 62 cases were referred for prosecution, but most were declined by prosecutors or dismissed by the court. Out of the original 73,000 denials, there emerge just 13 guilty pleas.
Now, let’s back up a moment. As far as we can determine, the very low rate of referrals does not mean that most of the denials were “false positives” or unwarranted. But it does mean that such cases are a low priority for government prosecutors."

So, out of those 72,000 denials, 62 cases were prosecuted. But yeah, I'm sure that expanding background checks would change that number. Maybe they'd double it, and 124 people would be prosecuted!

Also for your consideration:

"It (a 2004 DOJ report mentioned in the same article) also found a significant number of denials (21 percent) to applicants who should not have been prohibited from purchasing a firearm."

Sounds like a great system. If your car broke down on your way in to work 21% of the time, would you get it a new paint job? Or would you fix what was wrong with it before you considered doing something like that?

JERRY ARIPEZ's picture


That means no matter what the results were that in those 15 states they are able to weed out those good and bad...That works, cause it takes one person, one gun to create mayhem.

Now that works...BUT in the states that NO laws enforced or upheld it FAILS so that Nobody is looked at or researched. Meaning anybody gets a gun, UNCHECKED.....

So you and others say good let them have one and WHO CARES about others right to LIVE....

Noel Foss's picture


If that's what I'm saying, you must be saying that in states that required background checks on all gun show purchases, there were no murders committed with illegally purchased firearms? And that in states that don't require it, there were lots?

Source please.

JERRY ARIPEZ's picture


Federal law only requires licensed dealers to do background checks at gun shows. 15 states have laws in place, 35 DON'T

Known as the "gun show loophole," most states do not require background checks for private firearms purchases at gun shows. Federal law only requires licensed dealers to do background checks at gun shows.

A common misconception among some people I've talked to seems to be that retailers aren't required to perform checks on sales made at gun shows, but it's inaccurate.

Was your "among some people, the old adage, me, myself and I group.

Noel Foss's picture


My statement was entirely factual.
*Fact: Licensed dealers are required to perform background checks on all sales, regardless of venue.
*Fact: A very small amount of criminals purchase the weapons used in their crimes at gun shows.
*Fact: The majority of vendors at gun shows are licensed firearms dealers.
This link I can't add because of the censors on the computers at my office. I googled "sales made at gun shows" or something along those lines.

I've had this discussion frequently in the last several months, as you may imagine. And more than a few of the people I've had it with have been under the impression that all sales at a gun show are exempt from background checks. I can't provide you with proof, because i don't keep written transcripts of conversations held at bars, parties, or other social gatherings, so you'll just have to take my word on that one.

JERRY ARIPEZ's picture


Is a public forum of anybody that has an account can add, delete and modify information....3. License Grant

Subject to the terms and conditions of this License, Licensor hereby grants You a worldwide, royalty-free, non-exclusive, perpetual (for the duration of the applicable copyright) license to exercise the rights in the Work as stated below:
to Reproduce the Work, to incorporate the Work into one or more Collections, and to Reproduce the Work as incorporated in the Collections;
to create and Reproduce Adaptations provided that any such Adaptation, including any translation in any medium, takes reasonable steps to clearly label, demarcate or otherwise identify that changes were made to the original Work. For example, a translation could be marked "The original work was translated from English to Spanish," or a modification could indicate "The original work has been modified.";

Plus; your words,;;;;;

I can't provide you with proof, because i don't keep written transcripts of conversations held at bars, parties, or other social gatherings??????

Those are OPINIONS of others that are totally based on conjecture and what they think they may know or brainwashed with, I would guess most are Faux Noise browsers...--------
The majority of vendors at gun shows are licensed firearms dealers? Here is what you said: Quote:

Dealers typically make up the """""majority of gun show participants,"""""" and as such they're already required to perform a background check anyway.

Noel Foss's picture

and my statement about conversations had with other people

is anecdotal, and was intended as such. That's why I provided the disclaimer "People I have talked to" rather than "studies have shown" or "research has proven"

The statement "the majority of vendors at gun shows are licensed firearms dealers" is based on personal experience as well (I've been to probably 50 shows over the years, but again I can't cite that source because I didn't save the receipts), in addition to information I've picked up from conversations with other people both in person and on the web, as well as talking to local FFL dealers in the area.
If you don't like it or disagree with it, I encourage you to go to a couple shows, talk to some people, and confirm it independently. But if you're not willing to put in the legwork and either prove or disprove it yourself, your attack on my statement carries even less weight than my anecdotal evidence does.
Or is your opinion more reliable than somebody else's?

Noel Foss's picture

The nice thing about wikipedia

is that it provides multiple sources to reliable information (known as citing). That's what that big giant list of references at the bottom of those pages is for. Plus, wikipedia isn't blocked by the censors at my job.
You want to get picky, here you go.
Brady handgun law:
Have fun reading that one; like all legalese, it's pretty damn dull. Hence, wikipedia.

Statistics on firearms acquisition by criminals:

The conversations I've had are definitely opinion-based. Most conversations held in a casual, loosely-regulated setting are. Kind of like the one we're having right now...

JERRY ARIPEZ's picture

Makes a whole lot of sense

Where else can a person wantings guns to buy, goes to buy lots of guns, resells them, knowing he will not be identified or checked from that point on, for any records. It is laughable that all these hardcore gun users think that everyone in those gun shows are all honest law abiding.

They are the ones that enable the users that cannot buy or legally own weapons to have weapons. They just live in a world of denial and irresponsible behavior for others to die at the hands of those they assist by not enforcing background checks for all.

Noel Foss's picture


Whose pants are on fire now?
The majority of guns used in crimes aren't purchased at gun shows.
They're either stolen, or bought from somebody who stole them. Or they're borrowed/purchased from a family member.

JERRY ARIPEZ's picture

Where did I state that?

The majority of guns used in crimes aren't purchased at gun shows.

I said. that if those that want to buy guns without a check use gun shows.....

but like the guy in New York that shot and killed fireman and then himself, got that gun bought by a legitimate buyer and he was given the gun, she bought him...just one legal buyer, but killed how many fireman?????

Noel Foss's picture

in your previous comments, you stated:

"They (people opposed to mandatory background checks on all sales performed at gun shows) are the ones that enable the users that cannot buy or legally own weapons to have weapons."

You say that, despite evidence that very few criminals/prohibited buyers purchase their firearms at gun shows.

JERRY ARIPEZ's picture

Bottom line...

Gun-related death rates in the United States are eight times higher than they are in countries that are economically and politically similar to it; however, most countries similar to the United States have a more secure social network. Higher gun-related death rates can be found in developing countries and countries with political instability.[29][33][34]
However, developed countries with strict gun laws have essentially eliminated gun violence.[35][36][37][38]
Your info of choice...

Guns shows are ONE of the buyers choice, since at store dealers Federal Background is practiced, again not in all states. This is the loophole that is the question of closing the gate. Many buy at those locations and sell at black market deals and other venues.

Before you know it, there will no longer be dealers and shows, they won't be needed to buy guns, the black market and the internet will be the buyers choice.

Anyway you cut it, somethings have to change and get done or it just gets worst....

Noel Foss's picture

Gee, sorry Jerry

but I can't accept any of your last statement as valid because you used Wikipedia as a source, and anybody can edit it.
Gun shows are the LAST choice, statistically speaking. You want things to change? Maybe start with the most-utilized sources for criminals. No?
A thought: maybe politicians target background checks and gun shows because they think they're soft targets; something that can make it look like they care about stopping gun violence to appeal to their anti-gun constituents, but without pissing off their pro-gun constituents badly enough that they lose their votes. IF these politicians actually cared about stopping gun violence, they'd be pushing legislation to improve the existing laws, increase prosecution of gun crimes, fix NICS, and address the mental health issues that are the root cause of most of the mass shootings in this country. But instead you see crap like AWB's, mandatory UBC's (done with a broken and incomplete system), magazine capacity limits, and forced sale or registration of firearms float to the surface. Top paragraph in your article ( "Two thirds of all gun related deaths in the US are suicides"
Where's the screaming senators pounding their chests for better suicide prevention?
Look, my original post was in response to a question, asking for opinions. I've done lots of research that helped to form mine. I've read studies from a gun control standpoint, from a gun right's standpoint, and from a mental health standpoint. I've read more boring government reports on firearms than I can count, and pounded my head on the table reading the legalese in laws passed and passed over. I didn't form an opinion and then read a bunch of literature that supports it (otherwise you'd see me quoting crap like "More Guns, Less Crime" instead of DOJ studies and FBI statistics). You took issue with it, because it disagrees with yours. That's fine; I did you the courtesy of supplying some explanation for said opinion, but rather than take issue with the information, you attacked the source.
There's an old legal joke: "When the law is against you, argue the facts. When the facts are against you, argue the law. When the law and the facts are against you, yell like hell."
Most of the debate on firearms I've seen lately has been yelling.

JERRY ARIPEZ's picture

All said and done

Noel, I agree to the other solutions as well. But I stay on the fact that 35 states have none, zilch, on gun background checks, and that is what needs to be addressed and was being addressed. To cut your nose off to spite your face, is not wise, and with all of the other arguments you make are needed too. It is done and is worked elsewhere and it may curb some bad ones and it is up to the good ones with common sense to help get it done, as the 90% wanted to see it happen on background checks getting it done.

Now have an hour drive to the Twin Cities in a snow storm to get the wife...later....

Noel Foss's picture

The problem I have

is that most of the time people don't cut off their nose to spite their face; they cut off somebody else's nose and say it's for the greater good.
Background checks? I support the idea of them, but I don't support the execution because it's ineffective. I think they should fix what's wrong with the system we have before they start adding more to it.

Drive safe; watch out for drunks and the careless.


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