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Maine Senate rejects bill to require background checks for private gun sales

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

The Maine Senate has blocked a bill requiring background checks on private gun sales just one day after the House endorsed it.

Nine Democrats joined the Republican minority to defeat the measure, 21-13, continuing a pattern this session in which the Democratic-controlled House narrowly enacts gun control measures only to have the Democratic-controlled Senate oppose them.

The proposal drew comparisons to a 2016 statewide referendum rejected by voters, but unlike that measure it did not require a background check when loaning or gifting a gun to a family member.

The latest proposal was sharply opposed by gun rights groups, which wield significant influence in the Legislature because of their ability to mobilize gun owners in elections.

The bill now appears likely to stall between the House and Senate.

So far the only gun control bill to pass both chambers was signed this week by Gov. Janet Mills. It outlaws the purchase of firearms on behalf of people who are prohibited from owning them.

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