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. ⤴︎