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Governor’s Inaction Means Maine Gun Purchasers Will Have To Contend With Waiting Period

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A 72-hour-waiting period for lawful gun purchasers who have already passed the federal background check will take effect in Maine 90 days after the adjournment of the current legislative session.

Despite an abundance of public input against the measure, Gov. Janet Mills neither signed nor vetoed the measure, allowing it to go into effect without her signature.

“Maine residents elected the Governor to make hard decisions, and she took the cowardly way out and allowed a terrible, unconstitutional bill to go into law,” a legislative update by Gun Owners of Maine stated. This bill was defeated in 2023 and was brought back to life unethically during the emergency session by altering a few words, was passed using questionable vote-pairing in the Senate, and then will go into law without the governor’s signature. This doesn’t sound like a piece of legislation that the Maine people want.”

The organization said that leaders are planning to continue battling on this matter.

“We will be taking steps in the next couple of days to look into the best avenues for pursuing legal action,” the update said. “Waiting periods are arbitrary impositions on law-abiding citizens that do nothing to curb the activities of criminals. They are an infringement on our inherent rights and are in direct defiance of both our Maine and United States Constitutions.”

For her part, Gov. Mills said in a released statement: “I have spent the past ten days—the maximum allowed under the Maine Constitution—considering LD 2238, reviewing testimony both for and against, and speaking to proponents and opponents alike. I have thought long and hard about the potential impacts of this bill, and I am deeply conflicted.

“In carefully considering all the arguments, I have decided to allow this bill to become law. I do so, however, with some caveats and concerns and with the hope that it can be implemented to accomplish its intended goal of preventing suicide by firearm without overburdening our outdoor sports economy and the rights of responsible gun owners and dealers to engage in lawful and constitutionally protected activities.”

Since two-thirds of gun owners own more than one gun a so-called “cooling-off” period for these gun owners could not possibly have an effect. Additionally, anecdotal evidence about a person who purchases a firearm and then immediately uses it to harm themselves or somebody else is just that: anecdotal. There is no scientific evidence that waiting periods have an effect on suicide, homicide or mass shootings.

Additionally, most guns found at crime scenes were not purchased in the past three days before the crime was committed. According to a 2023 report by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) the majority of guns recovered at crime scenes were sold more than three years before the crime.

In an update to members, NRA’s Institute for Legislative Action encouraged Maine members to remember who voted for the measure when they go to vote this fall.

“Instead of standing with law-abiding gun owners, domestic abuse survivors, hunters, and small businesses, Governor Mills has given way to policy demands of radical Portland progressives dead-set on deteriorating your Second Amendment rights,” the update stated. “As we rapidly approach the 2024 election, NRA members and gun rights supporters should take note of the anti-gun politicians who played a role in undermining their civil rights.”

On a more positive note, Gov. Mills vetoed a measure that would have redefined “machine gun” to include bump stocks and common trigger alterations used by thousands of Maine gun owners.

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