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Maine Gun Reforms May Have Better Odds After Mass Shooting

Supporters of potentially historic gun law reforms packed the Maine State House last week, evidence of strong momentum for change more than four months after the deadliest mass shooting in state history, the Portland Press Herald reports. Defenders of traditional gun rights also made their voices heard during a series of crowded legislative hearings, vowing again to fend off efforts to restrict their Second Amendment rights. The Lewiston mass shooting in October inspired a slate of proposals that had been considered and rejected in recent years, including mandatory background checks for private gun sales and a 72-hour waiting period for firearm purchases.

One bill would make it easier for police to use the state’s so-called yellow flag law to seize weapons from someone who poses a threat, while a new proposal would replace it with a red flag law to make seizures even easier. While it’s unclear exactly how much could change, some political observers and lawmakers say the mass shooting may have prompted a shift in support of changes to gun laws and make it easier for the proposals to pass. The shift is evident even in the level of public debate since the tragedy. “I think the big change is people are talking about, how do we deal with these things? How does the yellow flag law work? Where are places it could be changed?” said Jim Melcher, a professor of political science at the University of Maine at Farmington. “Before the Lewiston shooting, I don’t think this would have been on the agenda much at all.”


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