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Maine Legislature poised to crack down on firearm straw purchases

Rows of handguns lie on display cases at the Showmasters Gun Show on Sunday, March 25, 2018, in Richmond, Virginia.
Erin Edgerton, VCU Capital News Service
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Flickr/Creative Commons
Rows of handguns lie on display cases at the Showmasters Gun Show on Sunday, March 25, 2018, in Richmond, Virginia.

The Legislature moved closer Tuesday to passing a bill that would increase penalties for people who buy firearms on behalf of individuals who are prohibited from owning them.

The proposal stiffens fines and prison time for people engaged in what are commonly called straw purchases to a Class B crime, which would be punishable by up to 10 years in prison and a $20,000 fine.

The bill, sponsored by Democratic state Sen. Anne Carney, of Cape Elizabeth, is backed by gun rights groups, an endorsement key to its likely passage.

The Senate approved the measure without a roll call vote last week and the House approved it the same way Tuesday — signs that it will soon head to Gov. Janet Mills.

The bill mirrors a federal ban on straw purchases, but supporters argued that it will allow local police to make arrests, too.

It's currently the only gun control proposal poised to become law from the current legislative session.

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