LEWISTON — The City Council passed a resolution this week supporting gun safety legislation under consideration by state lawmakers.

The legislation, sponsored by Lewiston state Sen. Peggy Rotundo and Rep. Kristen Cloutier, is intended to eliminate a loophole that allows certain firearm sales to proceed without a background check of the buyer, clarify and expand the process by which an individual may be determined ineligible to own or possess a firearm, and would direct the state to create a series of walk-in mental health crisis centers.

The proposal is part of a suite of bills introduced by Democrats following the deadly Oct. 25 mass shooting in Lewiston that killed 18 people. But the legislation faces opposition in Augusta, and the Lewiston resolution reflects a similar split.

Following some debate Tuesday, the City Council voted 4-3 to support the resolution, with councilors Tim Gallant, Michael Roy and Eryn Soule-Leclair opposed.

Gallant, the most vocal in opposing the resolution, said the language used in the legislation is “subjective” and “undefined.”

“It will do little to prevent crime while imposing felony charges to access a civil right,” he said, referring to a section of the law on background checks. “Why are we wasting time on this bill when we all know the problem is mental health? He did everything legal.”


Those in support pointed to Maine’s relaxed gun laws compared to many states.

Council President Scott Harriman said he is “fully in support” and that while the law “doesn’t go far enough, it’s a step in the right direction.”

When Gallant made a comparison to buying a gun from a friend to purchasing a car from a friend, Councilor Josh Nagine said that when he bought a car from a friend, he then had to register it, inspect it and insure it.

“That’s something I don’t have to do with a firearm,” he said.

During public comment, Lewiston resident Matt Agren asked how the legislation would have stopped the Oct. 25 shooting.

“Nothing in there would’ve stopped it,” he said. “All this is is a feel-good bill.”


Gun safety and reform activists, as well as gun rights activists, crowd the State House in Augusta in January as lawmakers return for the start of the second regular session of the 131st Legislature in January. Brianna Soukup/Staff Photographe

Nacole Palmer, executive director of the Maine Gun Safety Coalition, told the Portland Press Herald this week that lawmakers should enact laws to help prevent another shooting, not only look for ways that the Lewiston shooting could have been prevented.

Nagine argued that Maine’s gun laws are “some of the loosest in the country,” with our neighbors in New Hampshire having more restrictions. He said pieces of the legislation “don’t answer what happened on Oct. 25, but do answer what happens on a regular basis in our community.”

Mayor Carl Sheline said he supports the legislation because “these are common-sense measures that still respect the rights of gun owners in Maine.”

Republican lawmakers argued earlier this week that an interim report about the shooting confirms there is no justification for any of the new gun safety laws being proposed by Democrats.

A commission investigating the mass shooting issued an interim report last week that criticized the Sagadahoc County Sheriff’s Office for not using existing laws to take the shooter, Robert Card Jr., into custody and remove his firearms months before the tragedy, after his family expressed concerns about his mental health and he assaulted a colleague and made threats.

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