LePage likely to veto gun bill

Scott Thistle/Sun Journal

Augusta Mayor Bill Stokes speaks in support of a bill that creates penalties for those who sell firearms in private sales to individuals that are prohibited from owning guns. Stokes was participating in a press conference in support of the bill, LD 1240, earlier in June. The measure, which many believed dead for 2013, was "resurrected" and passed by the State Senate by a single vote in an 18-17 tally Wednesday.

AUGUSTA — 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, had been watered down by the Senate, but on Tuesday the House of Representatives sent the measure back to the Senate, insisting it pass.

The Senate approved the bill on an 18-17 vote, with two rural Democrats joining Republicans in the minority on the measure. Sen. John Patrick, D-Rumford, and Sen. Troy Jackson, D-Allagash, voted against the measure.  

Patrick said later he voted with his constituents on the issue, noting that many are avid sportsmen, National Rifle Association members and advocates for personal protection.

Sen. Stan Gerzofsky, D-Brunswick, the co-sponsor of the bill, said that though the measure had been killed twice before, it was "resurrected" again Wednesday.

Gerzofsky co-chairs the Criminal Justice and Public Safety Committee with Rep. Mark Dion, D-Portland, the sponsor of the bill. The committee debated LD 1240 — and dozens of other gun-related bills — extensively before issuing split reports on whether it should pass.

With a 78-71 vote Wednesday afternoon, the House moved the bill closer to the desk of Republican Gov. Paul LePage, who is expected to veto it because it conflicts with his gun-rights philosophy.

“Is it acceptable that someone can bet our safety on a hunch that a buyer seemed OK?” said Dion, a former Cumberland County sheriff, in a prepared statement issued after Wednesday’s vote in the House. “By closing the background-check loophole, we can reduce the potential for gun violence at the time of sale. Anything after that can be too little, too late.”

The House and Senate background-check votes fell far short of the two-thirds majority it would take to override a potential veto. Still, Gerzofsky seemed undeterred, noting a recent poll that suggests nearly 90 percent of Maine residents support background checks for all gun sales.

"On this one there is a very small but loud special interest," Gerzofsky said of those who have lobbied against the measure. "But my special interest is the people who sent me here. I can't understand for the life of me why some people in this chamber want to protect those who can't pass a background check."

Gerzofsky called the measure "a piece of common-sense legislation that requires background checks for people you don't know. It's pretty simple."

The measure would not apply to sales among family members and it would not make a background check mandatory for a private sale, Gerzofsky said.

The legislation also would not prohibit anyone who is legally entitled to possess a firearm from doing so, he said.

The bill was among dozens that looked to address firearms issues this lawmaking session. Gerzofsky said that while several bills that would have increased gun control failed to make it through the process, Democrats were able to fend off legislation to loosen control in Maine.

A bill that would have allowed public school employees to become trained and armed was defeated, as was a bill that would have allowed carrying a concealed handgun without a permit. Another bill that passed allows police, under certain circumstances, to ask people openly carrying firearms to identify themselves, he said.

Democrats were unable to advance bills that would have prohibited the sale of high-capacity ammunition magazines or ones that would have required federal background checks at gun shows in Maine.


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Eric  LeBlanc's picture

The anti Constitution nuts

The anti Constitution nuts will stop at nothing to try and abolish the 2nd Amendment. They went after handguns, "assault" rifles, gun shows, private sales, magazine capacity and just about anything else they could think of. Don't let these pieces of garbage fool you. They DO want to kill the 2nd Amendment. They're trying to do it piece by piece by dividing and conquering. Give them NOTHING, ever. If you cede anything to these anti Constitution lunatics you WILL lose your rights.

Noel Foss's picture

Interestingly, the above article fails to mention several points

*This bill would raise the minimum required age for a CCW from 18 to 21
What happens to people who are currently between the ages of 18 and 21 that hold a valid permit? Does their permit suddenly become invalid? Are they grandfathered? Does the age for "open carry" change as well? Or does it make more sense that they can openly carry a gun at 18, but have to wait another 3 years before they can put a jacket over it? Seems illogical.

*Stan Gerzofsky states that this bill does not make background checks mandatory for private sales, but the wording in the bill states that it does. Taken directly from the bill summary:
"5. Including in the definition of "firearm dealer" a private seller, including a private seller at a gun show;

6. Requiring a firearm dealer to require a buyer to present certification of completion of a firearm safety course or a copy of a current hunting license or current concealed handgun permit prior to sale"

So, does this bill make background checks mandatory, or not? Because if "Private Sellers" are considered "Firearms Dealers" and all firearms dealers are required to perform background checks, the wording of the bill certainly seems to imply that background checks would be mandatory.
Since there's the possibility of a criminal charge and a fine involved, shouldn't the legislature try to make the wording as clear as possible? I strongly encourage people to read the actual bill, and then contact their representatives to vote accordingly.
Link to the bill itself:

ERNEST LABBE's picture

Most of this

Most of this argument over gun control lately stems from the Newtown CT incident. The shooter there did not buy a gun. He stole it from his mother. So much for his background check. No matter how many laws are passed people will still find a way to get a gun, buy booze if under aged, ditto for cigarettes, Cuban cigars, prostitutes, and drugs. You cannot legisislate orallity or common sense.

ERNEST LABBE's picture


You cannot legisislate morallity or common sense.

Gerry Thompson's picture


This law suggests you are able to foresee a person's future mental status. The mass school shootings were not committed by known felons. Our gun laws are already adequate.

David Marsters's picture

Background checks

Do you do a background check on people when they buy a motor vehicle,knife baseball bat, hammer,etc. These are lethal weapons also if used to kill!!!!!!!!!!!!

FRANK EARLEY's picture

With the exception of the motor vehicle,,,,,,,,,

Possibly with the exception of the motor vehicle. Can you sit in your home, watching Monday night Nascar. With your favorite bottle of JD, while cleaning your 45 semi automatic. Then for some unknown reason the 45 decides to make some noise, the knife, baseball bat or most anything else wouldn't go through six walls cross one or two streets before striking and killing a perfectly innocent person. Wasn't it just a couple of months ago the woman on Main St in Auburn getting ready to go target shooting, somehow managed to shoot a building across the street? Someone sold a gun to someone in that household. Doesn't that scare anyone? All these arguments by so called gun owners, should be a red flag for why we need background checks.

Thomas Hamilton's picture


Yes indeed. Any one who wants to own a gun should need a license and verification that he/she knows how to take care of it. My neighbor came back to his lake-side camp to find a bullet hole in his window ... presumably from a careless hunter.

RONALD RIML's picture

Ignorance (Darwin Awards) also kills. Self register, David....

And perform your own background check......

PAUL MATTSON's picture

Waste of time on legislation

Waste of time on legislation that would not have prevented a single mass shooting. ((((VETO))))

PAUL MATTSON's picture

This legislation only targets

This legislation only targets Law Abiding Citizens. Criminals will never submit to a background check.

RONALD RIML's picture

The very reason 'Background Checks' should be mandatory.

Thanks for making our case, Paul.

PAUL MATTSON's picture

Waste of time on legislation

Waste of time on legislation that would not have prevented a single mass shooting. ((((VETO))))

FRANK EARLEY's picture

This argument is insane..........

I think the law is a good step to protect law abiding citizens. What I get the biggest kick out of, is these right "wing nuts" who are so hell bent on their so called civil rights, or Constitutional rights, they are completely ignoring the safety and well being of the masses. How can keeping guns out of the hands of potential killers a problem. It's like they are afraid to be responsible for their weapon, which includes the disposition of their weapons when their done with it. The selling of a weapon is every bit as much part of the responsible care of a gun. What these fools are saying is, as long as we get our money, it's not my problem anymore. That kind of thinking in my mind would ban you from having a weapon in the first place. I wouldn't sell them one.
Owning and caring for a weapon should be a mentality, almost a lifestyle. There shouldn't need to be a law regarding responsible sales. It's my opinion that the only people allowed to have guns, are those responsible enough to care about who takes over ownership of the weapon. If your just in it for the bang for your buck, get a sling shot.........................

David  Cote's picture

Background checks?

Lets see...Background checks are performed on individuals applying for a job, applying for a loan, for admission into exclusive clubs, etc... Background checks are a part of everyday life. They are no big deal and the benefit of the passage of this bill is to provide a fail-safe measure that protects the general public from purchasing a gun if their character and history is suspect. This is long overdue.

David  Cote's picture


A line in my last post should have read..."protects the general public from individuals purchasing a gun if their character and history is suspect." Sorry for the goof.

Thomas Hamilton's picture


This bill seems like a very minor imposition on the sale/purchase of a potentially lethal weapon.

Dan Beggs's picture

What constituents are they listening to?

people i know do not support this ending private sales of firearms. talk about infringement of our rights, this obliterates them in the most basic of terms innocent till proven guilty. the members of the legislature need to review their purpose of being in augusta. they are supposed to be protecting our rights not stomping them out. from now on they should have to pass a test to make sure they understand the constitution but the majority have probably not even read it. this is feel good legislation that probably is supported by a poll in communist portland but the leaves out the opinion of of the state. residents should not agree with this and should send their representative a scalding letter for voting for this un american unconstitutional nanny state BS.ALL sales now will have to go through a dealer be recorded in a NICS check, and wham backdoor gun registration in maine disguised as a background check bill and a new tax paid to a dealer so much for free state and uninfringed gun rights

Jason Theriault's picture

How's that tin foil hat treating ya?

This is pure hysterical ranting right here. I mean, what this does is makes you double check who your dealing with. Do you know the person your selling a weapon to? Are you willing to bet $500 on that?

If so, you don't need to do a check. If not, then whats the harm with doing a NCIS check?

BTW - I'll agree that people in Augusta have to pass a Constitutional test is you agree that people who post here need to pass a grammar test, like when to use capital letter(HINT: The first word in a sentence and proper names, like "Augusta" and "Portland")

Dan Beggs's picture

Hysterical rantings?

just because i value my rights and you don't , yes i am hysterical that a minority fringe of communist whakos want to end my freedoms and are more concerned with the need to pointing out capital letters than their right being violated,how pathetic


Who is punished?

As I understand it if someone does a background check and the customer passes who then commits a crime with that gun the seller is free from any penalty. And that is as it should be. We do not hold car dealers responsible for the actions of drivers but I wonder what would happen if a car dealer sold a car knowingly to a 12 year old who then went on to kill somebody with it? There is no excuse for putting a gun in the hands of a killer, a mentally unstable person or an abuser if you can avoid it. Doing a background check on someone you are suspicious of or do not know well is the least you can do. It seems to me like basic good citizenship.

Bob Berry's picture


Why do politicians always go after the law keepers?

Next they will hold car sellers accountable for damages from bad drivers. Or perhaps cutlery stores for kitchen knife stabbings? This is akin to holding bartenders liable for drunk driver damages, which is abhorrent. This culture has lost all notion of personal responsibility.

Laws and funds should be directed at enforcement and education.

I applaud Senators Patrick and Jackson for using some common sense.

Jason Theriault's picture


Last time I checked, it is illegal to sell a gun to a felon. If you sell a gun to a felon, you are not a "Law Keeper". You are a "Law Breaker".

Mark Elliott's picture

Part of the problem with

Part of the problem with background checks is the data that comes back from them....how accurate is it? How fair are the methods of collecting that data? Convicted felons lose rights, including but not limited to the right to own firearms. What if you were convicted of felony tax evasion? That doesn't make you dangerous.......but it unarms you.

Bob Berry's picture


No, I don't think so. It is illegal for a felon to purchase or possess a firearm. It is not illegal to sell him one. Yet. Thus the point of the proposed bill.

PAUL MATTSON's picture

The Gun Control Act (GCA)

The Gun Control Act (GCA) makes it unlawful for certain categories of persons to ship, transport, receive, or possess firearms. 18 USC 922(g). Transfers of firearms to any such prohibited persons are also unlawful. 18 USC 922(d).

PAUL MATTSON's picture

It is a crime to sell or

It is a crime to sell or transfer a firearm to a prohibited person.

Jason Theriault's picture

Your right

I am wrong, it is not a crime to sell a felon a gun. That is what they are trying to pass.

So let me ask you, do you think it shouldn't be a crime to sell a felon a firearm?

Bob Berry's picture

Wasn't I clear?

It should not be a crime to sell a firearm in an individual to individual in-state sale or gift between adults of age or family members or with guardian approval. It should be, and already is, a crime for someone to purchase a firearm if they are already banned from possessing one. The burden should not be on the seller, for all the points I made earlier.

This does not apply to large scale weapon sales, illegal weapons, etc., or any transfer of firearms already illegal.

To specifically answer your questions, it shouldn't be a crime to sell to a felon, because that puts the burden on the seller. That typically is not and should not be the way commerce works.

If the government or anyone else wants to create a voluntary background check system available to the public, I have no issue with that. In truth, FFL dealers already provide this service, albeit at a cost. I can sell a firearm to you, but worried you might be shady I could ask you to submit to and pay for a background check at a local gun shop. But it should not be compulsory. Holding the sellers responsible for the buyer's actions is not something I support, on any issue I can think of right now.

Mark Elliott's picture

Part of the problem with

Part of the problem with background checks is the data that comes back from them....how accurate is it? How fair are the methods of collecting that data? Convicted felons lose rights, including but not limited to the right to own firearms. What if you were convicted of felony tax evasion? That doesn't make you dangerous.......but it unarms you.

 's picture

And I would ask...

...why do politicians always protect the law breakers? Why do law breakers have more protections under the law than the law keepers? Bad drivers are taken to court and their licences (they DO have licences) revoked. If 6,000 people hadn't been victims of gun violence in the past six months, this wouldn't be necessary. The perpetrators of those six thousand deaths could have used an automobile - they didn't; they could have used a knife- they didn't. They used a gun. How come? You want to put guns in the hands of those who shouldn't have guns. How come? Why are you protecting them?

Bob Berry's picture

One sided.

Bad drivers are taken to court and punished. But not the car dealership. Ever sold a used car, perhaps in the Uncle Henry's? Want to be liable for the purchaser's decisions?

Not sure of your number, but certainly many people are subject to gun violence annually. In a world with guns, that is bound to happen. But your statement that they did not use automobiles? While true on the face of it, many more people are victims of violence due to cars, knifes, bats, etc., EACH. Those people chose other items.

And as an aside, ever study where that gun violence occurred? The majority happen in areas with strict gun control.

I do not want to put guns in the hands of those who should not have them. Especially the mentally ill, the terminally upset, or the liberally stupid. I support protecting gun owners and sellers, not purchasers. Penalizing the seller is the wrong method. Penalizing the purchaser is more appropriate.

 's picture

To do that...

...a gun purchaser would have to commit a gun crime for you to know who that might be. That's what you want?

Bob Berry's picture


You are skilled at misinterpreting a discussion then putting those words in the others mouth. Well done, sir. Does it make you happy? Giggle much?

First, your statement is not true. Many people who should not have guns are caught on other charges and prosecuted for the gun possession. Our law enforcement do rather well at this. Read about it in the paper all the time.

But to address your reply, obviously not. Nor would I want to wait until a drunk driver hits a school bus. But in neither case would I go back to the seller to make them responsible.

You seem to be under the misapprehension that it is possible to remove the possibility that criminals will get guns. That is not possible. There are billions of guns in the world, and millions of people who will abuse them. My point here is that such a law's only real affect would that the few criminals who actually buy their guns from lawful citizens would start stealing them instead. My position is this bill is bad and should fail in the House. If passed, it should be vetoed by the Governor.

Now, I'm sure a liberal will say, "But we HAVE to DO something!" And will further say that I'm mean, insensitive, and downright evil because I just don't care. That seems the crux of your reply. Of course, I do care. If a criminal were to use a gun violently around me or my family, I'd make sure it was his last time. See, I care.

 's picture

Good idea.

More guns. Shoot everyone. Let God sort it out.

Bob Berry's picture


By your sarcasm, I deduce what you really have a problem with is people hurting each other. I can get behind you on that one. I'd love to see an end to violence. When you work out how to do that, let me know.

 's picture

I all ready did.

You didn't like it. And you offered no alternative.

 's picture

I all ready did.

You didn't like it. And you offered no alternative.


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