Maine’s U.S. senators would likely back an effort to raise the minimum age to buy semi-automatic rifles if it came before the chamber, their offices said Thursday.

The U.S. House passed a bill Wednesday that did just that, as well as banning high-capacity magazines and imposing safe storage requirements for firearms. That bill passed 223-204, with only two Democrats opposed: Maine Second District Rep. Jared Golden and Rep. Kurt Schrader of Oregon. Five Republicans – four of whom are not seeking re-election – supported the measure.

U.S. Sens. Angus King and Susan Collins

Sen. Angus King, an independent who caucuses with Democrats, said through an aide that he would support raising the age to buy semi-automatics if such a measure came before the Senate.

A spokesperson for Sen. Susan Collins, a Republican, said the senator “is open to raising the age to purchase semi-automatic rifles to 21, or some form of waiting period, and juvenile records checks for those under 21.” The spokesperson, Annie Clark, said Collins also supports President Biden’s executive order banning bump stocks, increasing penalties for straw purchasers who buy firearms for people not allowed to do so, and certain so-called “red flag” laws that aim to temporarily take firearms from people who are a clear danger to themselves or others.

“The House’s bills are not currently being discussed in the Democrat-controlled Senate,” Collins said in a written statement. “To help protect children and other victims of these horrific mass shootings, our group … is developing a framework on gun safety legislation that can become law. The group had another very good meeting yesterday and is continuing to make progress. We hope to reach an agreement early next week.”

There is little indication the House measure will ever see a vote in the Senate, where attention is indeed focused on the negotiations Collins is engaged in. Those discussions, which are being led by Chris Murphy, Democrat of Connecticut, and John Cornyn, Republican of Texas, are focused on strengthening background checks, “red flag” laws, and increased funding for school security and mental health treatment.


“There’s the most common ground around mental health spending because it’s not as complicated politically,” Murphy told Politico after the group met Wednesday.

Golden is the lone opposing voice in Maine’s congressional delegation, having voted against his fellow Democrats’ gun control package Wednesday. He said in a statement that he did so because it would never pass the Senate and therefore, in his view, was part of a partisan cycle that “has resulted in nothing getting done.”

“There is, however, reason to be encouraged by the momentum behind bipartisan talks underway in the U.S. Senate,” Golden wrote. “We should all appreciate the example set by leaders like Senator Murphy and Senator Collins who are working hard to reach an agreement that can deliver progress where there has been so little in the past.”

“Now is not a time for bills we all know will fail. Congress should not simply focus on ‘doing something,’ but rather on doing something of substance that can pass into law and will advance the effort to prevent those with violent intent from obtaining or possessing weapons,” he added.

Rep. Chellie Pingree of Maine, D-1st District, voted to pass the House measure.

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