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Gov. Janet Mills signs bill expanding background checks, crisis centers

Democratic Gov. Janet Mills acknowledges dignitaries in the gallery before delivering her State of the State address, Tuesday, Jan. 30, 2024, at the State House in Augusta, Maine.
Robert F. Bukaty
/
AP
Democratic Gov. Janet Mills acknowledges dignitaries in the gallery before delivering her State of the State address, Tuesday, Jan. 30, 2024, at the State House in Augusta, Maine.

Gov. Janet Mills has signed into a law her proposal to expand background checks for firearm sales and crisis receiving centers.

The governor's bill was a response to the Lewiston mass shootings and one that straddles the competing interests in Maine gun politics.

The expansion of background checks on advertised gun sales was a priority for gun safety groups.

Meanwhile, the crisis receiving center initiative is a response to gun rights advocates who called for strengthening the state's mental health system.

The proposal also makes a slight tweak to Maine's yellow flag law without changing the steps required to confiscate guns from a person deemed a danger to themselves or others, or removing the requirement for a mental health evaluation.

The evaluation requirement distinguishes Maine's risk protection order law from the so-called red flag laws that exist in 21 other states.

While gun safety groups pushed for a red flag law during the regular session, the proposal was never put up for a vote.

The governor has not yet acted on two other gun safety proposals. One creates a three-day waiting period for purchases and another bans devices that allow a semi-automatic weapon to fire like a machine gun.

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Journalist Steve Mistler is Maine Public’s chief politics and government correspondent. He is based at the State House.