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Maine's US senators help gun bill win approval

Mal Leary
Maine Public file
Maine U.S. Sens. Susan Collins and Angus King, at a press event in Brunswick in 2014.

The U.S. Senate has advanced a bipartisan gun bill negotiated in part by U.S. Sens. Susan Collins, a Republican, and Angus King, an independent, both from Maine.

The bill makes modest changes to federal gun laws, provides funding for school security and expands an existing Justice Department grant program to include funding for states that adopt red or yellow flag laws, which allow law enforcement to petition courts and temporarily seize guns from someone considered a danger to themselves or others.

The grants are also available to other crisis intervention programs, such as drug courts and veterans’ courts.

Another provision provides local authorities 10 business days to search juvenile justice and mental health records for gun buyers under age 21.

In a statement, Collins applauded the Senate's 64-34 vote to advance the bill, which is opposed by the National Rifle Association, but backed gun safety groups.

Collins said the proposal, which could clear the Senate as soon as Thursday, does not infringe on the rights of law-abiding gun owners.

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