The Maine Legislature has adopted an express preemption statute which provides:
1. Preemption. The State intends to occupy and preempt the entire field of legislation concerning the regulation of firearms, components, ammunition and supplies. Except as provided in subsection 3, any existing or future order, ordinance, rule or regulation in this field of any political subdivision of the State is void.
2. Regulation restricted. Except as provided in subsection 3, no political subdivision of the State, including, but not limited to, municipalities, counties, townships and village corporations, may adopt any order, ordinance, rule or regulation concerning the sale, purchase, purchase delay, transfer, ownership, use, possession, bearing, transportation, licensing, permitting, registration, taxation or any other matter pertaining to firearms, components, ammunition or supplies.
3. Exception. This section does not prohibit an order, ordinance, rule or regulation of any political subdivision which, with the exception of appropriate civil penalty provisions, conforms exactly with any applicable provision of state law or which regulates the discharge of firearms within a jurisdiction.
4. Law Enforcement Agency. Nothing in this section limits the power of any law enforcement agency to regulate the type and use of firearms issued or authorized by that agency for use by its employees. For the purposes of this section “law enforcement agency” has the same meaning as set forth in section 3701.1
The adoption of express preemption rendered invalid many local ordinances regulating firearms.2 In addition to affecting regulations by cities and counties, section 2011 preempts firearms regulations by municipal agencies or authorities.3
Title 12, § 13201, which relates to inland fisheries and wildlife, states that while a “municipality or political subdivision of the State may not enact any ordinance, law or rule regulating the hunting, trapping or fishing for any species of fish or wildlife,” this restriction on local power does not prohibit the enactment of “any ordinance generally regulating the discharge of firearms in a municipality or any part of a municipality.”
Pursuant to title 30-A, § 3007(5), any municipality adopting or amending a firearm discharge ordinance shall consult with the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife during the process. Furthermore, the area(s) in which the discharge of firearms is prohibited under an ordinance must be described using “clearly defined physical boundaries” as points of reference.4
Maine limits local regulation of shooting ranges. A municipal noise control or other ordinance may not require or be applied so as to require a sport shooting range to limit or eliminate shooting activities that have occurred on a regular basis at the range prior to the enactment date of the ordinance, as long as the range conforms to generally accepted gun safety and shooting range operation practices or is constructed in a manner not reasonably expected to allow a projectile to cross the boundary of the range.5 Subject to some limitations, local governments are allowed, however, to regulate the location and construction of new sport shooting ranges or substantial change in use of existing ranges on or after September 1, 2016.6
Finally, a 2017 law also prohibits local governments (as well as state agencies) in Maine from keeping, or causing to be kept, a list or registry of privately owned firearms or firearm owners within their jurisdiction.8
- Me. Stat., 25, § 2011. ⤴︎
- See, e.g., Hilly v. City of Portland, 582 A.2d 1213, 1215 (Me. 1990) (holding that section 2011 preempted a Portland ordinance prohibiting the carrying of guns at night). ⤴︎
- See Doe v. Portland Housing Authority, 656 A.2d 1200, 1203-04 (Me. 1995) (finding that section 2011 preempted a municipal housing authority’s leasing provision which prohibited the possession of firearms on the leased premises). ⤴︎
- Id. ⤴︎
- Me. Stat. § 3011(2). ⤴︎
- Id. at (3) and (4). ⤴︎
- Tit. 30-A, § 2005. ⤴︎
- 2017 ME HB 10, enacting Me. Stat. § 2014. ⤴︎