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Proposal Would Let Maine Courts Restrict Access To Weapons In Harassment Cases

Maine Legislature
Robert F. Bukaty
AP file
The Maine State House is seen at sunrise, Wednesday, Dec. 2, 2020, in Augusta, Maine.

A legislative committee is considering a proposal that would allow a court to temporarily restrict a person’s access to weapons in protection from harassment cases.

Maine law already allows a judge to restrict a person’s access to weapons in protection from abuse cases. The Legislature's Judiciary Committee is considering a proposal sponsored by Democratic state Sen. Anne Carney to expand that judicial power.

“What this legislation does is it just gives courts in protection from harassment actions the same authority they have in protection from abuse actions," she says.

Supporters, including members of the Maine Gun Safety Coalition, say the measure will reduce gun violence. But opponents argue that it goes too far, and could cause a person to lose access to their weapons without a hearing because of a complaint brought by a disgruntled neighbor.

David Trahan, executive director of the Sportsman’s Alliance of Maine, questions whether the legislation is needed because of the broad authority judges are given under current law.

“It was our organization that spearheaded the effort that created the protection from abuse orders and the ability to take firearms away during that process. We are not against reasonable regulation; we just think this bill goes way beyond what we need,” he says.

Journalist Mal Leary spearheads Maine Public's news coverage of politics and government and is based at the State House.