Maine lawmakers pass gun bills in wake of October mass shooting

By Brad Brooks

(Reuters) – Maine lawmakers on Thursday sent a draft of gun safety measures to the governor to sign into law, fulfilling a promise to take swift action designed to prevent mass shootings such as a rampage last year that killed 18 people in the city of Lewiston.

Governor Janet Mills, a Democrat who sponsored some of the legislation, was expected to sign the bills.

Among the measures approved this week by legislators before ending their session was a bill establishing a 72-hour waiting period on gun purchases, an expansion of background checks to include private gun sales, and the prohibition of bump stocks -devices that enable semiautomatic rifles to fire more rapidly.

But legislators failed to pass a “red flag” law that advocates had vigorously supported. Such a measure would have made it easier for police and courts to remove guns from people considered mentally unwell or dangerous.

“After the devastating mass shooting in Lewiston last year, Mainers called for real progress on gun violence prevention and our legislators delivered,” said Kathleen McFadden, with the Maine chapter of gun safety group Moms Demand Action.

Earlier this year, an independent commission found law enforcement authorities had probable cause to place U.S. Army reservist Robert Card into protective custody and seize his guns under the state’s existing “yellow flag” gun law a month before he shot 18 people to death in Lewiston in October.

The Oct. 25 shooting spree, unleashed by Card at a bar and a bowling alley, also wounded 13 in the most lethal episode of gun violence in Maine’s history.

Card, assigned to an Army Reserve unit in the nearby city of Saco, was found dead two days later of a self-inflicted gunshot wound at a recycling plant where he once worked.

In the days that followed, it surfaced that his family had contacted the sheriff’s office five months earlier to report their concerns about his deteriorating mental health and that he had access to at least 10 guns.

(Reporting by Brad Brooks in Longmont, Colorado; Editing by Chris Reese)

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