Sweeping gun legislation awaits final votes as Maine lawmakers near adjournment

AUGUSTA, Maine (AP) — The Maine Legislature moved in fits and starts toward adjournment on Wednesday, with unfinished business including final votes on a series of gun safety bills that were introduced after the deadliest shooting in state history last fall.

The Senate was awaiting an enactment vote on the governor’s gun safety proposals that would strengthen the state’s yellow flag law, boost background checks for private sales of guns and make it a crime to recklessly sell a gun to a prohibited person.

The Senate narrowly gave final approval to a 72-hour waiting period for gun purchases and a ban on bump stocks that can transform a weapon into a machine gun.

Looming in the background: Lawmakers had yet to vote on a red flag proposal sponsored by House Speaker Rachel Talbot Ross to allow family members to petition a judge to remove guns from someone who is in a psychiatric crisis. The state’s yellow flag law puts police in the lead of the process, which critics say is too complicated.

Legislators faced a Wednesday deadline for completing work before adjournment. Democratic Gov. Janet Mills indicated she had no interest in extending the session.

A dustup between the governor and lawmakers over the amount of money to help communities recover from storm damage created an 11th-hour wrinkle. Lawmakers also had to approve a budget revision that could prove contentious.

The Oct. 25 shooting by an Army reservist that claimed 18 lives and injured 13 others served as a backdrop for the legislative session.

Republicans accused Democrats of using the tragedy to play on people's emotions to pass contentious bills, some of which were previously defeated. Supporters of the legislation said constituents implored them to do something to prevent future attacks.