Council approves bills aimed at curbing gun violence

AUGUSTA, Maine (AP) — Maine lawmakers will soon debate three bills aimed at preventing gun violence in the wake of a mass shooting at a high school in Florida.

The Legislative Council approved a “red flag” bill allowing police to temporarily confiscate guns of those deemed to be a danger. A second bill would create community education programs to raise awareness of those who could pose a danger. A third is a $20 million bond issue for school security.

Those bills will be debated in coming weeks. The council rejected bills aimed at banning high-capacity magazines and so-called “bump stocks,” which allow semi-automatic rifles to mimic machine guns.

House Speaker Sara Gideon, a Democrat, criticized lawmakers for failing to do more.

“I find it unconscionable that we aren’t doing more or moving faster, but I want to make it clear that this remains my priority and that it is the responsibility of all lawmakers to say enough is enough. We must take serious action to reduce gun violence,” she said Tuesday.

The three bills were submitted after a school shooting in which a troubled teenager with an assault rifle killed 17 people at a high school in Parkland, Florida.

In the aftermath, Democratic Rep. John Martin, of Eagle Lake, asked lawmakers to spike his bill that would have allowed guns in cars on school grounds.

The bill would’ve allowed people picking up or dropping off students to have an unloaded gun in the car if the weapon was locked and the owner didn’t leave the vehicle.

The Education and Cultural Affairs Committee voted 10-1 against the bill Wednesday.

At a public hearing, many superintendents and educators spoke against the bill, as did the Maine Principals’ Association, the Maine School Boards Association and the Maine School Superintendents Association.

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