Gun Shows in Maine

Maine has only one law that explicitly regulates gun shows. The following sign must be posted at all entrances of an organized gun show, in block letters not less than one inch in height:

“ENDANGERING THE WELFARE OF A CHILD IS A CRIME. IF YOU LEAVE A FIREARM AND AMMUNITION WITHIN EASY ACCESS OF A CHILD, YOU MAY BE SUBJECT TO FINE, IMPRISONMENT OR BOTH.
KEEP FIREARMS AND AMMUNITION SEPARATE.
KEEP FIREARMS AND AMMUNITION LOCKED UP.
USE TRIGGER LOCKS.”1

See the Minimum Age to Purchase or Possess section for additional laws that apply at gun shows.

See our Gun Shows policy summary for a comprehensive discussion of this issue.

Notes
  1. Me. Stat., 15 § 455-A(1-A). ⤴︎

Guns in Schools in Maine

Maine law generally prohibits possession of a firearm on public school property or the property of approved private schools.1

No law in Maine prohibits possession of a firearm on the campus of a college or university, although colleges and universities may regulate the possession of firearms on their own property.2

See our Guns in Schools policy summary for a comprehensive discussion of this issue.

Notes
  1. Me. Stat. 20-A, § 6552. ⤴︎
  2. Me. Stat. 20-A, § 10009. ⤴︎

Guns in Vehicles in Maine

Maine has no law regarding unloaded firearms in vehicles. A person 21 years or older who is not otherwise prohibited from possessing a firearm may have a loaded handgun in the vehicle.1

An employer may not prohibit an employee who has a valid permit to carry a concealed handgun from keeping a firearm in the employee’s vehicle as long as the vehicle is locked and the firearm is not visible.2

Notes
  1. Me. Stat., 12 § 11212(1)(B). ⤴︎
  2. Me. Stat., 26 § 600. ⤴︎

Immunity Statutes in Maine

Maine prohibits municipalities from commencing a civil action against “any firearm or ammunition manufacturer for damages, abatement or injunctive relief resulting from or relating to the lawful design, manufacture, marketing or sale of firearms or ammunition to the public.”1 This provision does not prohibit a municipality from bringing an action against a firearms or ammunition manufacturer or dealer for breach of contract or warranty for firearms or ammunition purchased by a municipality.2

See our policy page on Gun Industry Immunity for a comprehensive discussion of this issue.

Notes
  1. Me. Stat., 30-A § 2005. ⤴︎
  2. Id. ⤴︎

Local Authority to Regulate Firearms in Maine

Preemption Statute

The Maine Legislature has adopted an express preemption statute. Section 2011 of title 25 of Maine Rev. Stat. 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.

The adoption of express preemption rendered invalid many local ordinances regulating firearms.1 In addition to affecting regulations by cities and counties, section 2011 preempts firearms regulations by municipal agencies or authorities.2

Exceptions

Political subdivisions in Maine are allowed to enact ordinances that:

  • Conform exactly with state law3
  • Regulate firearm discharge4

Law enforcement agencies also retain the authority “to regulate the type and use of firearms” issued to its employees.5

Interpretation

As of the date this page was last updated, Giffords Law Center is not aware of any significant case law interpreting these statutes.

Other Statutory Provisions

Maine also 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.6 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, 2016.7

Further, a 2017 law 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

Immunity

For state laws prohibiting local units of government (i.e., cities and counties) from filing certain types of lawsuits against the gun industry, see our page on Immunity Statutes in Maine.

Notes
  1. 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). ⤴︎
  2. 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 that prohibited the possession of firearms on the leased premises). ⤴︎
  3. Me. Stat., 25, § 2011(3). ⤴︎
  4. Id. Though section 13201 of title 12 (relating to inland fisheries and wildlife) precludes a political subdivision from enacting “any ordinance, law or rule regulating the hunting, trapping or fishing for any species of fish or wildlife,” the statute specifically provides that the restriction does not prohibit the enactment of “any ordinance generally regulating the discharge of firearms in a municipality or any part of a municipality.” Any municipality adopting or amending a firearm discharge ordinance, though, must consult with the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife during the process and must use “clearly defined physical boundaries” as points of reference to describe the area or areas in which the discharge of firearms is prohibited. Me. Stat., 30, § 3007(5). ⤴︎
  5. Me. Stat., 25, § 2011(4). ⤴︎
  6. Me. Stat., 30, § 3011(2). ⤴︎
  7. Id. at (3) and (4). ⤴︎
  8. Me. Stat., 25, § 2014. ⤴︎

Locking Devices in Maine

Maine law does not require a locking device to accompany the sale of a firearm, although federal law applies. Maine also does not require firearm owners to lock their weapons. However, Maine law does require federally licensed firearms dealers to offer to demonstrate to every firearm purchaser the use of a trigger locking device.1 In addition, dealers must post a sign regarding firearm storage. For more information about the sign, see the Maine Dealer Regulations section.

See our Locking Devices policy summary for a comprehensive discussion of this issue.

Notes
  1. Me. Stat., 25 § 2012. ⤴︎

Machine Guns & Automatic Firearms in Maine

Maine law prohibits knowingly possessing a machine gun; however, this prohibition does not apply to machine guns manufactured, acquired, transferred, or possessed in accordance with federal law.1

Federal law requires machine guns to be registered with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms & Explosives (ATF), and generally prohibits the transfer or possession of machine guns manufactured after May 19, 1986.2 In December 2018, ATF finalized a rule to include bump stocks within the definition of a machine gun subject to this federal law, meaning that bump stocks will be generally banned as of March 26, 2019.3

See our Machine Guns policy summary for a comprehensive discussion of this issue.

Notes
  1. Me. Stat., 17-A §§ 1051-1052. ⤴︎
  2. 18 U.S.C. § 922(o); 26 U.S.C. § 5861(d). ⤴︎
  3. Bump-Stock-Type Devices, 83 Fed. Reg. 66,514 (Dec. 26, 2018) (to be codified at 27 C.F.R. pts. 447, 478, 479). ⤴︎

Mental Health Reporting in Maine

See our Mental Health Reporting policy summary for a comprehensive discussion of this issue.

Federal law prohibits possession of a firearm or ammunition by any person who has been “adjudicated as a mental defective” or involuntarily “committed to any mental institution.”1 No federal law, however, requires states to report the identities of these individuals to the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (“NICS”) database, which the FBI uses to perform background checks prior to firearm transfers.

Maine requires courts to transmit to the Department of Public Safety, State Bureau of Identification an abstract of any order for involuntary commitment issued by the court. The abstract must include:

  • The person’s name, date of birth and gender;
  • The court’s ruling that the person has been involuntarily committed by a court after a hearing because the person was found to present a “likelihood of serious harm” (as Maine law defines the phrase); and
  • A notation that the person has been notified by the court about the firearm prohibition.2

The Bureau also must report to NICS as soon as it receives any abstract from a court finding that a person has been:

  • Committed involuntarily to a hospital pursuant to an order of the District Court after a hearing;
  • Found not criminally responsible by reason of insanity with respect to a criminal charge; or
  • Found not competent to stand trial with respect to a criminal charge.3

The abstract is confidential and not a public record; however, a copy of the abstract may also be provided by the Bureau to a criminal justice agency for legitimate law enforcement purposes or to an issuing authority for the purpose of processing concealed handgun permit applications.4

Note that these reporting requirements only apply if the person was judicially committed after a hearing (and is therefore subject to the Maine prohibition against firearm possession)5.  Maine does not require the reporting of individuals who have been committed through emergency procedures, but who have not yet been granted a hearing.6

Restoration of Firearm Rights for the Mentally Ill: Maine law allows a person subject to the federal prohibition against firearm possession as a result of being committed pursuant to Maine’s emergency procedures (but who is not subject to the Maine prohibition against firearm possession by persons judicially committed after a hearing) to, after the expiration of five years from the date of final discharge, apply to the Commissioner of Public Safety for relief from the disability.7 The burden of proof is on the applicant to prove, by clear and convincing evidence, that the circumstances that led to the involuntary commitment have changed, that the applicant is not likely to act in a manner dangerous to public safety, and that granting the application for relief will not be contrary to the public interest.8

For general information on the background check process and categories of prohibited purchasers or possessors, see the Maine Background Checks section and the section entitled Maine Prohibited Purchasers Generally.

Other duties of mental health professionals: Mental health professionals must notify law enforcement if he or she has reason to believe a person committed to a mental institution has access to firearms9.  Additionally, mental health facilities, upon discharge of a patient, are required to make inquiries and documentation of those inquiries into access by the patient to firearms and to notify the patient, the patient’s family and any other caregivers that possession, ownership or control of a firearm by the person to be discharged is prohibited by Maine law10.

Notes
  1. 18 U.S.C. § 922(d)(4). ⤴︎
  2. Me. Stat., 34-B, § 3864(12). ⤴︎
  3. Me. Stat., 25 § 1541(3)(C). ⤴︎
  4. Id. ⤴︎
  5. Me. Stat., 34-B, § 3864(12); Me. Stat., 25 § 1541(3)(C). ⤴︎
  6. See Me. Stat., 15, § 393(4-A). ⤴︎
  7. Me. Stat., 15 § 393(4-A). The application must be accompanied by a report from an independent licensed psychologist or psychiatrist. The Commissioner must notify, and request relevant information from, local law enforcement. Id. ⤴︎
  8. Id. According to a Maine government website, Maine’s process under this statute was disapproved by the U.S. Department of Justice, Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, in letter of December 28, 2009, stating that Maine’s relief process will not end the federal prohibition from firearms possession. See Office of Adult Mental Health Services, Maine Dept. of Health and Human Services, Firearms and Psychiatric Hospitalization Laws Applicable in Maine (March 10, 2010), at https://maine.gov/dhhs/mh/rights-legal/firearms-laws.shtml. ⤴︎
  9. Me. Stat., 34-B § 1207(8). ⤴︎
  10. Me. Stat., 34-B § 3871(7). ⤴︎