AUGUSTA – Bills regarding the storage of firearms were a topic of contention at the Maine State House Friday. Supporters said they protect kids and are common sense bills, but those opposed feel you can’t legislate good parenting.
One of ten gun regulation bills up for public hearing would require firearms be secured in a locked container with tamper-resistant devices, in places where kids are present.
Supporters said unsecured weapons are frequently accessed by kids, sometimes resulting in death.
“That family has to deal with the fact that they have left things unsafe, so they’ve lost a child. That is a lifetime of trauma,” said Rep. Anne Perry, D – Calais, the bill’s sponsor.
Some said the gun safety bills are well intentioned, but are not something that can be easily enforced.
And opponents said in rural areas, they don’t want firearms far away.
“Nobody can come into your home to check if your guns are properly stored,” said Jerry Watson, a Pittston resident. “In an emergency situation where the police are minutes and sometimes hours away…I want something by my side.”
Another bill would ban the sale of high capacity magazines, which can hold ten rounds or more of ammunition.
The bill’s sponsor, Rep. Barbara Cardone said high capacity magazines have been used in mass shootings.
“I have a lot of parents concerned about school safety…every constitutional right that we have has limitations, and one of the limitations is public safety, safety to others,” said Rep. Cardone, D – Bangor.
“My personal firearm magazine holds thirteen rounds,” said Eric Brakey, a former state senator. “Criminals who are trying to get these devices can always go to the black market.’
Members of Moms Demand Action and local high schoolers feel it’s time for these laws so kids can feel safe going to school.
“Since the Parkland shooting last year, we have known that there’s every possibility that our school could be next,” said Pearl Benjamin, a student at Watershed School in Camden.
“We have the safest state in the nation. We don’t want these gun laws, we don’t need them, we thrive the way life should be,” said Rep. John Andrews, R – Paris.
Rep. Andrews had the one gun related bill getting support from gun rights activists.
His bill would remove a current requirement to retreat when possible before using deadly force in a confrontation.