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Maine Gun Laws

Monday, April 20, 2020

STATE CONSTITUTIONAL PROVISION - Article 1, Section 16. “Every citizen has a right to keep and bear arms and this right shall never be questioned.”

Gun Laws Overview

RIFLES & SHOTGUNS HANDGUNS
Permit to Purchase No No
Registration of Firearms No No
Licensing of Owners No No
Permit to Carry No No*

*No permit is necessary to carry openly while in this state, or to carry a concealed handgun if the person is at least 21 years old, or between 18 and 21 and on active duty in the Armed Forces of the United States or the National Guard or is an honorably discharged veteran, and is not otherwise prohibited from carrying a firearm. 

The list and map below are included as a tool to assist you in validating your information.  We have made every effort to report the information correctly, however reciprocity and recognition agreements are subject to frequent change.  The information is not intended as legal advice or a restatement of law and does not include:  restrictions that may be placed on non-resident permits, individuals under the age of 21, qualifying permit classes, and/or any other factor which may limit reciprocity and/or recognition. For any particular situation, a licensed local attorney must be consulted for an accurate interpretation.  YOU MUST ABIDE WITH ALL LAWS: STATE, FEDERAL AND LOCAL.

RECIPROCITY NOTES: MAINE honors RESIDENT permits from states it recognizes. Alaska, Arizona, Iowa, Kansas, Nebraska and North Dakota permit holders must be at least 21 years of age to carry in this state; Virginia permit holders must be 21 or older and possess government-issued identification; see https://www.maine.gov/dps/msp/licenses-permits/concealed-carry-maine/reciprocity  Florida, Michigan and New Hampshire recognize Maine RESIDENT permits only.  

STATE STATUS
Castle Doctrine Enacted
No-Net Loss Enacted
Right to Carry Confidentiality Provisions Enacted
Right to Carry in Restaurants Partial Ban
Right To Carry Laws No Permit Required
Right To Carry Reciprocity and Recognition Conditional Recognition
Right to Keep & Bear Arms State Constitutional Provisions With Provisions
Concealed Carry Reciprocity
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Laws on Purchase, Possession and Carrying of Firearms

Antiques and Replicas

The provisions of law on possession, purchase, and carrying apply to antiques and replicas.

Possession

No permit is required to possess a rifle, shotgun, or handgun.

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Maine law, 15 M.R.S.A. § 393, prohibits certain persons from possessing a firearm or having one under their control:

  • Anyone convicted of committing or found not criminally responsible by reason of insanity of committing a crime in Maine (or a substantially similar crime in another state) that is punishable by imprisonment for a term of one year or more; a crime in any other jurisdiction punishable by imprisonment for a term exceeding one year, except a misdemeanor punishable by imprisonment of two years or less; or a crime in any jurisdiction (including the Passamaquoddy Tribe or Penobscot Nation) in which the prosecuting authority was required to plead and prove that the person committed the crime with the use of a firearm against a person, or any other dangerous weapon.
  • Anyone convicted or found not criminally responsible by reason of insanity of committing listed domestic violence offenses.
  • Anyone who has been adjudicated as having engaged in conduct as a juvenile that, if committed by an adult, would have been a disqualifying conviction as an adult and where bodily injury to another person was threatened or resulted. In the case of domestic violence crimes, though, there is no requirement of bodily injury being threatened or resulting. The prohibiting effect of some juvenile adjudications is limited; see below.
  • Anyone, due to mental illness, who was committed involuntarily to a hospital pursuant to an order of the Maine district court.
  • Anyone, with respect to a criminal charge, found not criminally responsible by reason of insanity or found not competent to stand trial.
  • Any fugitive from justice.
  • Those prohibited from possession of a firearm under federal law due to being unlawful users of, or addicted to, any controlled substance.
  • Any alien illegally or unlawfully in the United States, or who was admitted under a nonimmigrant visa and who is prohibited from possession of a firearm under federal law.
  • Anyone who has been dishonorably discharged from the U.S. Armed Forces.
  • Any U.S. citizen who has renounced that citizenship.
  • Anyone subject to a protective order, except an ex parte order, that restrains the person from harassing, stalking or threatening an intimate partner or child of that partner, as defined in federal law, where the order explicitly prohibits the use, attempted use or threatened use of physical force against an intimate partner or a child that would reasonably be expected to cause bodily injury, or finds that the person represents a credible threat to the physical safety of an intimate partner or a child.
  • As of July 1, 2020, anyone who is a “restricted person” under 34-B M.R.S.A. § 3862-A (“red flag law” – a person in protective custody pending a court hearing based on the assessment of a medical practitioner, or a person subject to firearm restriction based on a court order after such hearing).
  • As of July 1, 2020, anyone who, as a result of mental illness, has been ordered to participate in a progressive treatment program under 34-B M.R.S.A. § 3873-A where the order states the person is not to possess a dangerous weapon for the duration of the treatment program. The court must specify the type of weapon the patient is prohibited from possessing; notify the patient that possession of such a weapon by the person is prohibited; and direct the patient to surrender such weapons the patient possesses to a law enforcement officer for the duration of the order.

The disqualifying effect of adjudications for certain nonviolent juvenile offenses – generally those that do not involve bodily injury to another person (threatened or resulted) – expires three years following completion of any disposition imposed or until the person reaches 18 years of age, whichever is later.  15 M.R.S.A. § 393(1-A).

The disqualifying effect of domestic violence convictions under state law expires five years from the date the person is discharged from the sentence imposed as a result of the conviction or adjudication if that person has no subsequent criminal convictions during that five-year period. This applies to those convicted, adjudicated or placed on deferred disposition on or after October 15, 2015. 15 M.R.S.A. § 393(1-B).

Otherwise, a person subject to a firearm disability because of a criminal conviction or juvenile adjudication may, five years after the date that the person is finally discharged from the sentences imposed as a result of the conviction or adjudication, apply to the Office of the Governor for a permit to possess a firearm. (The person remains ineligible for a permit to carry a concealed handgun.) If issued, a permit is valid for four years from the date of issue. 15 M.R.S.A. § 393(2).

A person subject to a firearm disability because of a disqualifying adjudication as a mental defective may, after the expiration of five years from the date of final discharge from commitment, apply to the commissioner of public safety for a restoration of firearm rights. This process is not available for those found not criminally responsible by reason of insanity or incompetent to stand trial in a criminal case, or a person adjudged by a probate court to lack the capacity to contract or manage the person’s own affairs. 15 M.R.S.A. § 393(4-A).

It is a crime to sell or transfer a handgun to a minor under the age of 18; however, the law exempts certain transfers. These includes temporary transfers to a minor in the course of employment, target practice, hunting or instruction in the safe and lawful use of a handgun, where the minor may transport an unloaded handgun in a locked container directly from the place of transfer to a place at which one of these activities occurs and back again. This also does not apply to temporary transfers with the prior written consent of the minor’s parent or guardian, if that parent or guardian is not prohibited by federal, state or local law from possessing a firearm. Other exceptions include a transfer by inheritance of title to, but not possession of, a handgun to a minor; a transfer when the minor takes a handgun in self-defense or in defense of another person against an intruder into the residence of the minor or a residence in which the minor is an invited guest; and transfers where the minor is a member of the United States Armed Forces or the National Guard who possesses or is armed with a handgun in the line of duty. 17-A M.R.S.A. § 554-B.

It is a crime for anyone other than the parent, foster parent or guardian to knowingly transfer a firearm (other than a handgun) to a minor under 16 years of age. It is an affirmative defense to a prosecution that the person had approval for the transfer from the minor’s parent, foster parent or guardian, or reasonably believed (for reasons other than the minor’s appearance or oral representations) that the minor receiving the firearm had attained 16 years of age. 17-A M.R.S.A. § 554-A(2), (3).

It is unlawful to possess a firearm in a courthouse, even if the person has a valid permit to carry a concealed handgun. The law does not apply to on-duty law enforcement officers, corrections officers or corrections supervisors, or an employee of a courier or security service in the course and scope of employment, or the possession of an unloaded firearm for the purpose of offering the firearm as evidence in a civil or criminal proceeding, with the prior approval of the presiding judge.  17-A M.R.S.A. § 1058

It is unlawful for a person, other than a law enforcement officer or a private investigator, to possess a firearm in a liquor-licensed establishment that is posted to prohibit or restrict the possession of firearms. It is unlawful for any person to possess a firearm while under the influence in such an establishment. In addition to other penalties, a person convicted of a violation faces revocation of any carry permit and remains ineligible to obtain or apply for a permit to carry a concealed firearm for five years from the date of that conviction. 17-A M.R.S.A. § 1057.

Possession of a firearm is prohibited on public school property or the property of an approved private school. This does not apply to law enforcement officers, possession of an unloaded firearm for use in a supervised educational program approved and authorized by the school board, or the possession of an unloaded firearm stored inside a locked vehicle in a closed container, a zipped case or a locked firearms rack while the person is attending a hunter’s breakfast or similar event authorized by the school board and that occurs during an open firearm season and outside of regular school hours. 20-A M.R.S.A. § 6552.

A school board must expel any student who possesses a firearm or a dangerous weapon on school property without the permission of a school official.  20-A M.R.S.A. § 1001(9), (9-A).

It is a crime for any person to be armed with a dangerous weapon at the site of a labor dispute or strike. A person holding a valid permit to carry a concealed handgun is not exempt from law. A security guard is exempt from this subsection to the extent that federal laws, rules or regulations require the security guard to be armed with a dangerous weapon at the site of a labor dispute or strike. 32 M.R.S.A. § 9412(5).

A regulation prohibits carrying firearms or other dangerous weapons in the Capitol Area in Augusta, Maine (the land, buildings and facilities of the Capitol Area, the District Court Building on State Street, the State Police Barracks and Garage on Hospital Street, the Blaine House Complex and Blaine Memorial, and the Augusta Mental Health Institute Complex). The same regulation extends this to “any other state controlled locations, whether its owned, leased, or just used by the state within the City limits of Augusta, Maine”). Code Me. R. 16:219-41.

It is generally unlawful to use or possess a firearm in Acadia National Park, although this law exempts: a concealed firearm carried by a person together with that person’s valid permit to carry a concealed firearm; a firearm within a residential dwelling; a firearm while hunting when and where authorized by state or federal law; a firearm in “a mechanical mode of conveyance as long as the firearm is rendered temporarily inoperable or is packed, cased or stored in a manner that prevents its ready use;” and possession and use by law enforcement officers and qualified retired law enforcement officers with the appropriate documentation. 12 M.R.S.A. § 756.

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Purchase

No state permit is required to purchase a rifle, shotgun, or handgun.

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It is unlawful to give a false or fictitious name to a firearms dealer. 15 M.R.S.A. § 455(2).

A firearms dealer may not refuse to show or refuse to allow inspection of the form a dealer must keep as prescribed by 18 U.S.C. § 923 to a law enforcement officer, upon presentation of a formal written request for inspection stating that the form relates to an active criminal investigation. This requirement does not apply to a firearms wholesaler who sells only to other firearms dealers, or to a firearms manufacturer who sells only at wholesale. 15 M.R.S.A. § 455(1-A), (3).

A firearms dealer must include a safety brochure with every firearm sold (unless the firearm manufacturer provides a basic firearm safety brochure with the firearm), offer to demonstrate the use of a trigger-locking device, and conspicuously post information relating to the availability of known local voluntary firearm safety programs. 25 M.R.S.A. § 2012.

Upon the purchase of a handgun, a person who does not have a concealed carry permit but who qualifies for permitless carry is required to sign an acknowledgment in the presence of the firearm dealer. This states that the person was provided with a basic firearm safety brochure that complies with the requirements in 25 M.R.S.A. § 2012. The purchaser, not the seller, keeps this acknowledgment document. Maine’s Department of Public Safety is required by law to post, at the department’s publicly accessible website, a basic firearm safety brochure, an acknowledgment form and a list of safety programs certified by a national nonprofit membership organization that provides a volunteer safety program, including the training of people in the safe handling and use of handguns. 25 M.R.S.A. § 2001-A(3). 

Any commercial retail sales outlet that sells firearms must post a conspicuous warning at each purchase counter in block letters not less than one inch in height which reads:

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.

The same sign must be posted at all entrances to an organized gun show. 15 M.R.S.A. § 455-A(1), (1-A).

It is a crime to sell or transfer a handgun to a minor under the age of 18; however, the law exempts certain transfers. 17-A M.R.S.A. § 554-B.

It is a crime to knowingly sell a firearm (other than a handgun) to a minor 16 years of age or older but under 18 years old if the seller is not the parent, foster parent or guardian of the minor. It is an affirmative defense that the person had approval for the transfer from the minor’s parent, foster parent or guardian, or reasonably believed (for reasons other than the minor’s appearance alone) that the minor receiving the firearm had attained 18 years of age. 17-A M.R.S.A. § 554-A(2-A), (3-A).

It is a crime for anyone other than the parent, foster parent or guardian to knowingly transfer a firearm (other than a handgun) to a minor under 16 years of age. It is an affirmative defense to a prosecution that the person had approval for the transfer from the minor’s parent, foster parent or guardian, or reasonably believed (for reasons other than the minor’s appearance or oral representations) that the minor receiving the firearm had attained 16 years of age. 17-A M.R.S.A. § 554-A(2), (3).

It is a crime to sell or offer to sell, furnish or give away to a child under 16 years of age air rifles, gunpowder, smokeless powder or ammunition for firearms. It is an affirmative defense to a prosecution that the defendant was the parent, foster parent, guardian or an adult approved by the parent, foster parent or guardian who furnished the child under 16 years of age an air rifle, gunpowder, smokeless powder or ammunition for a firearm for use in a supervised manner. 17-A M.R.S.A. § 554(1)(B), (2)(C).

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Carrying

It is not unlawful to carry a firearm openly. In 2015, Maine enacted a permitless carry law.

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No carry permit is necessary to carry a concealed handgun if the person is at least 21 years old (or between 18 and 21 and on active duty in the Armed Forces of the United States or the National Guard or is an honorably discharged veteran) and is not otherwise prohibited by state or federal law from carrying a firearm. 25 M.R.S.A. § 2001-A(2)(A-1). (See the section on Possession for a summary of disqualifications on firearm possession.) The 2015 law leaves intact the state conceal carry permitting system for persons who wish to participate in reciprocal concealed carry permit agreements when traveling to other states.

Under state law, 25 M.R.S.A. § 2001-A(1), it is a crime to conceal about the person or display in a threatening manner a firearm, slungshot, knuckles, bowie knife, dirk, stiletto or other dangerous or deadly weapon usually employed in the attack on or defense of a person. The exceptions to this prohibition include:

  • A handgun carried by a person with a valid Maine permit to carry a concealed handgun, or who has a valid permit issued by his or her state of residence and the permit is recognized by the State of Maine. 
  • A handgun carried by anyone eligible under the permitless carry law, above.
  • A handgun carried by a law enforcement officer, a corrections officer or a corrections supervisor, an authorized federal officer, or a qualified law enforcement officer or qualified retired law enforcement officer pursuant to 18 U.S.C. §§ 926B or 926C with the appropriate documentation.
  • Knives used for lawful hunting, fishing or trapping, or a firearm carried by a person engaged in conduct for which a state-issued hunting or trapping license is required and in possession of that license, or a firearm carried by a resident of Maine engaged in lawful hunting or trapping without a license.

A person carrying under the permitless carry law, on contact with any law enforcement officer during the course of any arrest, detainment or routine traffic stop, must immediately inform the officer that the person is carrying a concealed handgun. A failure to do so is a civil for which a fine of not more than $100 may be imposed. 25 M.R.S.A. §§ 2003-A, 2004. A person with a permit to carry a concealed weapon must display the permit “on demand of any law enforcement officer,” 25 M.R.S.A. § 2003(11).

It is unlawful for a person, while in or on a motor vehicle or trailer or other type of vehicle being hauled by a motor vehicle, to have a loaded crossbow or a loaded firearm (one with a cartridge or shell in the chamber or in an attached magazine, clip or cylinder, or a muzzle-loading firearm charged with powder, lead and a primed ignition device or mechanism). The exceptions include a loaded handgun carried in or on a vehicle by a person at least 21 years old (or between 18 and 21 and on active duty in the Armed Forces of the United States or the National Guard or is an honorably discharged veteran) who is not otherwise prohibited by law from carrying a firearm. 12 M.R.S.A. § 11212-A.

An employer, or employer’s agent, may not prohibit an employee who has a valid concealed carry permit from keeping a firearm in the employee’s vehicle, provided that the vehicle is locked and the firearm is out of sight. This applies to State employees whose vehicle is on property owned or leased by the State.  26 M.R.S.A. § 600(1).

The issuing authority for a permit to carry a concealed weapon is the mayor and municipal officers or councilors of a city, the municipal officers or councilors of a town, or the assessors of a plantation or, if they so choose, their full-time chief of police; or the chief of the state police in case of a resident of unorganized territory or a nonresident. 25 M.R.S.A. § 2002-A.

An applicant for permit to carry a concealed weapon must be at least 18 years old; not prohibited from possessing a firearm under state law, or federal law as a result of a criminal conviction; and be of good moral character. In judging good moral character, the issuing authority must refer to evidence recorded by governmental entities within the five years preceding the application. Matters considered include, but are not limited to:

  • recorded incidents of abuse of family or household members by the applicant.
  • three or more convictions for crimes punishable by less than one year of imprisonment (including adjudications for crimes committed as a juvenile).
  • • convictions, or adjudications for juvenile offenses, for specified drug offenses (including possession of marijuana, butyl nitrite or isobutyl nitrite).
  • Information that the applicant has engaged in reckless or negligent conduct.

25 M.R.S.A. §§ 2003(1), (4).

The applicant must also demonstrate to the issuing authority a knowledge of handgun safety -- proof that the applicant has, within the five years prior to the date of application, completed a course that included handgun safety, or “personally demonstrate knowledge of handgun safety to an issuing authority,” but only if the issuing authority is willing to evaluate an applicant’s personal demonstration of such knowledge. The handgun safety element does not apply to any applicant who holds a valid state permit to carry a concealed firearm as of April 15, 1990 or of any applicant who was or is in any of the Armed Forces of the United States and has received at least basic firearms training.  25 M.R.S.A. § 2003(1)(E)(5).

Processing time varies: a permit must be issued or denied, as the case may be, within 30 days for an applicant who has been a resident for at least five years; otherwise, the permit decision must be made within 60 days. Once issued, the permit to carry concealed is valid for four years from the date of issue and valid throughout the state, unless revoked sooner. 25 M.R.S.A. §§ 2003(12), (8) and (10).

A permit holder, including a nonresident who holds a permit issued by the nonresident’s state of residence, must have the permit in his or her “immediate possession at all times when carrying a concealed handgun,” and must produce the permit on demand of any law enforcement officer. 25 M.R.S.A. § 2003(11).

If the permit holder is required by law to submit to chemical testing for the presence of intoxicating liquor or drugs relating to a potential violation of 17-A M.R.S.A. § 1057 (possession of a firearm under the influence of liquor or drugs in an establishment licensed for on-premises consumption of liquor) or for conduct that occurs while the permit holder is in possession of a loaded firearm, and the permit holder refuses to submit to the required testing, the permit to carry a concealed firearm issued to that person is immediately suspended and must be surrendered at that time to the law enforcement officer. The suspension ends when the permit holder is acquitted of the criminal charges to which the refusal pertains, if the charges are dismissed by the State or by the court, or if a determination is made that the officer lacked probable cause to require the person to submit to testing. 25 M.R.S.A. § 2005-A.

All applications for a permit to carry concealed handguns and documents made a part of the application, refusals and any information of record collected by the issuing authority during the process of ascertaining whether an applicant is of good moral character and meets the additional requirements of the permitting law are confidential and are not public records, although the following information about each permit holder is not confidential and is a public record: the municipality of residence, the date the permit was issued and the date it expires. All proceedings relating to the issuance, refusal, suspension or revocation of a permit to carry concealed handguns are not public proceedings unless otherwise requested by the applicant. 25 M.R.S.A. § 2006.

For places where possession or carrying a firearm is prohibited, see the section on Possession.

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Machine Guns, Magazines, Ammunition, etc.

“Machine gun” is defined as “a weapon of any description, by whatever name known, loaded or unloaded, which is capable of discharging a number of projectiles in rapid succession by one manual or mechanical action on the trigger or firing mechanism.” 

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It is lawful to possess a machine gun that is legally acquired, registered and possessed in compliance with all federal laws and regulations. Other persons allowed to possess a machine gun include any law enforcement officer of the State of Maine, any law enforcement officer of another state or a territory of the United States, members of the Armed Forces, Maine National Guard and Maine State Guard, if the possession or carrying is in the discharge of the person’s official duties and has been authorized by his or her appointing authority. Otherwise, possession of a machine gun is a class D crime. 17-A M.R.S.A. §§ 1051, 1052.

Any machine gun possessed in violation of state law is deemed contraband and is subject to forfeiture to the State. The forfeiture is subject to the proceeding and hearing outlined at 17-A M.R.S.A. §§ 1053, 1054.

It is unlawful to hunt with or possess an “automatic firearm” while hunting. 12 M.R.S.A. § 11214(1).

Maine does not regulate “large capacity” magazines.

It is a crime to knowingly possess “armor-piercing ammunition.” State law defines “armor-piercing ammunition” as a “projectile or projectile core that may be used in a handgun and that is constructed entirely, excluding the presence of traces of other substances, from one or a combination of tungsten alloys, steel, iron, brass, beryllium copper or depleted uranium, including but not limited to ammunition commonly known as KTW ammunition.” The definition excludes “shotgun shot required by federal or state environmental or game laws, rules or regulations for hunting purposes, a frangible projectile designed for target shooting or any projectile or projectile core found by the United States Secretary of the Treasury or the secretary’s delegate, pursuant to 27 Code of Federal Regulations, Section 178.148 or Section 178.149, to be primarily intended to be used for sporting purposes or used for industrial purposes, including a charge used in an oil and gas well perforating device.”

The exceptions to the armor-piercing ammunition crime include possession as part of “a bona fide collection,” or possession by members of the United States Armed Forces, the United States Reserve Forces or the National Guard, or to law enforcement officers or agencies or forensic laboratories, in the course of duty or employment. 17-A M.R.S.A. § 1056.

It is a crime to sell or offer to sell, furnish or give away to a child under 16 years of age air rifles, gunpowder, smokeless powder or ammunition for firearms. It is an affirmative defense to a prosecution that the defendant was the parent, foster parent, guardian or an adult approved by the parent, foster parent or guardian who furnished the child under 16 years of age an air rifle, gunpowder, smokeless powder or ammunition for a firearm for use in a supervised manner. 17-A M.R.S.A. § 554(1)(B), (2)(C).

Maine has no specific law addressing “assault weapons.”

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Miscellaneous Provisions

State law prohibits a government agency of the state or a political subdivision from keeping or causing to be kept any registry of privately-owned firearms and the owners of those firearms. 25 M.R.S.A. § 2014.

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State law prevents cities and other localities from enacting laws concerning the regulation of firearms, components, ammunition and supplies, which are not in conformity with state law. A separate state law prohibits a municipality or any political subdivision of the state from generally enacting ordinances, laws or rules regulating hunting, fishing or trapping. This exempts any ordinance generally regulating the discharge of firearms within that municipality or any part of that municipality. 25 M.R.S.A. § 2011; 12 M.R.S.A. § 13201.

State law prohibits a municipality from bringing a civil action against a firearm or ammunition manufacturer for damages or injunctive relief resulting from or relating to the lawful design, manufacture, marketing or sale of firearms or ammunition to the public. This does not prohibit a municipality from bringing an action against a firearm or ammunition manufacturer or dealer for breach of contract or warranty for firearms or ammunition purchased by a municipality. 30-A M.R.S.A. § 2005.

Unless a relevant municipal ordinance provides otherwise, it is unlawful to discharge a firearm (or cause a projectile to pass as a result of that discharge) within 100 yards of a building or residential dwelling without the permission of the owner or, in the owner’s absence, of an adult occupant of that building or dwelling. “Building” means any residential, commercial, retail, educational, religious or farm structure that is designed to be occupied by people or domesticated animals or is being used to shelter machines or harvested crops. A person may discharge a firearm on a sport shooting range that is within 100 yards of a building if the sport shooting range was established and in regular operation prior to the erection of the building. 12 M.R.S.A. § 11209.

A person is guilty of a criminal offense if, with the intent to defraud and to prevent identification, he or she alters, removes or obscures the manufacturer’s serial number or any other distinguishing identification number, mark or symbol upon any firearm, or possesses a firearm so altered, or intentionally or knowingly transports any such firearm. 17-A M.R.S.A. § 705(1)(E).

It is unlawful to shoot or possess a loaded firearm (one with a cartridge or shell in the chamber or in an attached magazine, clip or cylinder, or a muzzle-loading firearm charged with powder, lead and a primed ignition device or mechanism) while in or on a motor vehicle or motorboat or while in or on a trailer or other type of vehicle being hauled by a motor vehicle. The exceptions include certain disabled hunters shooting from a vehicle that is not in motion, or a loaded handgun carried in or on a vehicle by a person at least 21 years old (or between 18 and 21 and on active duty in the Armed Forces of the United States or the National Guard or is an honorably discharged veteran) who is not otherwise prohibited by law from carrying a firearm, or persons target shooting and not hunting, who are on but not within an enclosed area or passenger compartment of a vehicle and shoot a firearm or rest a loaded firearm that is under the person’s control on the vehicle to shoot, but only when the vehicle is not in motion and the engine of the vehicle is not running. 12 M.R.S.A. § 11212-A.

It is unlawful to hunt or possesses for hunting any auto-loading firearm having a magazine capacity of more than 5 cartridges, with the exception of firearms using the .22 caliber rimfire cartridge or smaller caliber cartridge or to any autoloading pistol having a barrel less than 8 inches in length. 12 M.R.S.A. § 11214(1)(B)

It is unlawful to hunt with a silencer, tracer bullets, exploding bullets or to hunt migratory game birds with a shotgun capable of holding more than 3 shells, unless the gun is modified to only allow 3 shells in the magazine and chamber combined. 12 M.R.S.A. § 11214(1)(C), (D), (E), and (F).

It is unlawful to discharge any firearm, bow and arrow or crossbow over a public paved way, or shoot at any wild animal or wild bird from any public paved way or within 10 feet of the edge of the pavement of the public paved way or from within the right-of-way of any controlled access highway. This does not prohibit a person who has a valid permit to carry a concealed weapon from possessing that weapon on or near a public paved way as long as it is not used for shooting at wild animals or wild birds or discharged as otherwise prohibited. 12 M.R.S.A. § 11208.

A person may not use any firearm other than a shotgun in the Town of Southport or the islands within the confines of the Town of Southport. 12 M.R.S.A. § 11211.

It is an offense for a health care practitioner or emergency medical services person who treats a human being for a wound “apparently caused by the discharge of a firearm” to knowingly fail to report the same to a law enforcement agency “immediately by the quickest means of communication.” 17-A M.R.S.A. § 512.

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Preemption

The State intends to occupy and preempt the entire field of legislation concerning the regulation of firearms, components, ammunition and supplies

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State law prevents cities, counties, townships and other localities from enacting laws, rules, or other regulations “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 exceptions are (1) ordinances which, with the exception of appropriate civil penalty provisions, duplicate or “conform exactly with any applicable provision of state law,” (2) ordinances which regulate the discharge of firearms within that jurisdiction, or (3) regulations imposed by a local law enforcement agency on the type and use of firearms issued or authorized by that agency for use by its employees. 25 M.R.S.A. §§ 2011(1) - (4).

A separate state law prohibits a municipality or any political subdivision of the state from generally enacting ordinances, laws or rules regulating hunting, fishing or trapping. This exempts any ordinance generally regulating the discharge of firearms within that municipality or any part of that municipality. 12 M.R.S.A. § 13201.

State law prohibits a municipality from bringing a civil action against a firearm or ammunition manufacturer for damages or injunctive relief resulting from or relating to the lawful design, manufacture, marketing or sale of firearms or ammunition to the public. This does not prohibit actions against a firearm or ammunition manufacturer or dealer for breach of contract or warranty for firearms or ammunition purchased by a municipality. 30-A M.R.S.A. § 2005

During a state of emergency, as declared by the Governor, a person acting on behalf or under the authority of the State or a political subdivision of the State may not (1) “prohibit or restrict the otherwise lawful possession, use, carrying, transfer, transportation, storage or display of a firearm or ammunition,” or (2) seize or confiscate, or authorize the seizure or confiscation of, an otherwise lawfully possessed firearm or ammunition unless the person acting on behalf of or under the authority of the State is acting in self-defense or defending another person from an assault, arresting a person in actual possession of a firearm or ammunition for a violation of law; or seizing or confiscating the firearm or ammunition as evidence of a crime, or (3) require registration of a firearm or ammunition for which registration is not otherwise required by state law. 25 M.R.S.A. § 2011(5).

Any person who is adversely affected by a violation of the state of emergency provision above because of a confiscation or seizure or otherwise has a right to bring a legal action against anyone who subjects that person to an action prohibited by the law, and to recover, in addition to any other damages or relief awarded, prevailing plaintiff costs and reasonable attorney’s fees. 25 M.R.S.A. § 2011(5)(B) –(D). 

Subparagraph (1) (regarding prohibitions  or restrictions on the lawful transfer of a firearm or ammunition) does not apply to the “commercial sale of a firearm or ammunition if an authorized person has ordered an evacuation or general closure of businesses in the area of the business engaged in the sale of firearms or ammunition.” 25 M.R.S.A. § 2011(5)(A)(1).

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Restoration of Rights

Maine has enacted a restoration of rights procedure for persons under a mental health-based firearm disability, but it appears applications are no longer being accepted by the Commissioner of Public Safety. Gun rights lost due to a criminal conviction may be restored by pardon, through application to the Office of the Governor, or in some cases, on the expiry of stated time periods. 

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Firearm disability arising from mental health adjudication, commitment. The process for applying for a restoration of state gun rights is outlined at 15 M.R.S.A. § 393(4-A). A person becomes eligible to apply after the expiration of 5 years from the date of final discharge from commitment. Relief is not available for a person found not criminally responsible by reason of insanity or incompetent to stand trial in a criminal case, or a person adjudged by a Probate Court to lack the capacity to contract or manage the person’s own affairs. The application is made to the Commissioner of Public Safety in the prescribed form.

At this time (August 2020), the Maine State police website at https://www.maine.gov/dps/msp/licenses-permits/rights-restoration advises: “However, the Federal government has determined that Maine’s process is not in complete compliance with the NICS Improvement Amendments Act of 2007. Thus, even if the Commissioner were to grant an application submitted by a person pursuant to the Maine statute, the person would still be prohibited from possessing firearms and ammunition under Federal law. Because of the Federal determination, the Maine law has no effect on the federal prohibition. The Commissioner does not wish to create the impression that the process has some legal effect, and does not wish citizens to incur the cost of application unnecessarily. Accordingly, the Commissioner is not currently accepting applications made pursuant to this section.

Firearm disability arising from criminal conviction. A person: (1) convicted, or found not criminally responsible by reason of insanity of committing, a crime punishable by a term of one year or more; or (2) who has been adjudicated in any jurisdiction to have engaged in conduct as a juvenile that, if committed by an adult, would have been a disqualifying conviction and bodily injury to another person was threatened or resulted; or (3) convicted, or found not criminally responsible by reason of insanity of committing, a crime in any jurisdiction (including the Passamaquoddy Tribe or Penobscot Nation) in a proceeding in which the prosecuting authority was required to plead and prove that the person committed the crime with the use of a firearm against a person or any other dangerous weapon; or (4) convicted, or found not criminally responsible by reason of insanity of committing, or adjudicated as a juvenile for committing, a domestic violence crime, is prohibited from possessing a firearm in Maine. The “one year or more” category does not apply to a crime under the laws of another state that is classified by the laws of that state as a misdemeanor and is punishable by a term of imprisonment of two years or less. 15 M.R.S.A. § 393(1)(A-1), (1)(C), and (1-B).

A loss of state gun rights based on an adjudication as a juvenile for a crime punishable by a term of one year or more, or a domestic violence crime is in effect for a period of 3 years following completion of any disposition imposed or until that person reaches 18 years of age, whichever is later. This automatic restoration does not apply to an adjudication for a domestic violence crime where bodily injury to another person was threatened or resulted, or a proceeding in which the prosecuting authority was required to plead and prove that the person committed the crime with the use of a firearm against a person or any other dangerous weapon. 15 M.R.S.A. § 393(1-A).

A loss of state gun rights based on a conviction for a domestic violence crime (including a juvenile adjudication that doesn’t qualify above) is in effect only for a five-year period from the date the person is finally discharged from the sentence imposed as a result of the conviction or adjudication, if that person has no subsequent criminal convictions during that 5-year period. 15 M.R.S.A. § 393(1-B).

For other convictions/adjudications, 15 M.R.S.A. § 393(2) allows a person to apply to the Office of the Governor for “a permit to carry a firearm” once at least five years have expired from the date that the person is finally discharged from the sentences imposed as a result of the conviction or adjudication. Despite the name of this permit, it does not allow the person to be issued a permit to carry a concealed handgun.

The application under 15 M.R.S.A. § 393(2) must be on a form prepared by the Office of the Governor, and among other information, must be accompanied by certified or attested copies of the indictment, information or complaint, judgment and commitment and discharge that are the subject of the conviction. The governor may direct any appropriate investigation to be carried out, and must notify: the sentencing or presiding judge, the Attorney General, the district attorney for the county where the applicant resides, the district attorney for the county where the conviction occurred, the law enforcement agency that investigated the crime, the chief of police and sheriff in the municipality and county where the crime occurred and the chief of police and sheriff in the municipality where the applicant resides. A written objection by any of these persons to the granting of the permit will result in a denial. The governor may deny any application for a permit even if no objection is filed. Any person whose application has been denied may file a petition for review. 15 M.R.S.A. § 393(3) to (5).

The governor also has the authority to issue pardons, based on recommendations by the Governor’s Board on Executive Clemency. According to posted guidelines to determine whether a pardon petition will be accepted, “Petitioners seeking a pardon for the sole purpose of carrying a firearm to hunt, or otherwise, will not be heard.” See https://www.maine.gov/corrections/adult/pardon/#whatguidelines

Maine has no provisions allowing expungement of adult conviction records.

For more information on restoration of rights following a conviction, see the state website on pardons, https://www.maine.gov/corrections/adult/pardon/#whatguidelines and the federal and relevant state law page at https://ccresourcecenter.org/restoration. 

 

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Range Protection

A municipal noise control or other ordinance cannot 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

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This does not restrict a municipality from regulating the location and construction regarding a “substantial change in use of an existing range” on or after September 1, 2016. 30-A M.R.S.A. § 3011(2), (3).

A municipality cannot restrict a sport shooting range established prior to September 1, 2016 from performing maintenance or otherwise making improvements to the sport shooting range and its buildings, structures and grounds with regard to: enhancing public safety and shot containment; providing access for persons with disabilities and providing restroom facilities; otherwise maintaining or improving the habitability of buildings and grounds, if such maintenance or improvements are otherwise in compliance with the municipality’s generally applicable building codes and zoning ordinances; or repairing or rebuilding a building or structure damaged by fire, collapse, explosion or an act of God, if such repairs or rebuilding is otherwise in compliance with the municipality's generally applicable building codes and is completed within two years of the loss or damage. 30-A M.R.S.A. § 3011(4).

Another section, 17 M.R.S.A. § 2806, applies to nuisance actions for noise against a shooting range. A person is not permitted to maintain a nuisance action, including for noise, against a shooting range located in the vicinity of that person’s property if the shooting range was established as of the date the person acquired the property, unless there has since been a substantial change in use of the range and the action is brought within three years from the beginning of the substantial change.

A person who owns property in the vicinity of a shooting range that was established after the person acquired the property may maintain a nuisance action, including for noise, against that shooting range, but only if the action is brought within five years after establishment of the range or three years after a substantial change in use of the range.

In either case, if there has been no shooting activity at a range for a period of three years or more, any resumption of use as a shooting range is considered establishment of a new shooting range. This section does not limit nuisance actions against shooting ranges established on or after September 1, 2016.

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SOURCES: Maine Code Title 12, Sections 11102, 11208, 11209, 11212, 11214, 13201; Title 15, Sections 455; 455-A; Title 17-A, Sections 1051, 1052, 1057; 2001-2006 2011; 2012

Maine NEWS

News  

Thursday, January 15, 2004

Gun-Ban Vote An Assault On Common Sense

He thought he had a full-fledged emergency on his hands. The federal ban on assault weapons is set ...

Hunting  

Monday, December 8, 2003

Baldacci Backs Sportsmen On Bear Baiting

The governor says that such a ban could threaten the health of the bear population and the economies ...

Hunting  

Monday, April 14, 2003

Plans To Simplify Hunting Laws Prove Confusing

AUGUSTA - The Sportsman`s Alliance of Maine`s legislative agenda to simplify and improve Maine`s hunting laws proved confusing ...

News  

Friday, March 28, 2003

Bill Would Let Victims Of Abuse Carry Guns

Victims of domestic violence should be free to carry concealed weapons without permits because that may be the ...

Hunting  

Tuesday, August 13, 2002

Sign Wars Fire Up Debate On Hunting

Proponents of hunting in Kittery`s Town Farm Forest have gone public in the fight to keep their sport ...

Gun Laws  

Friday, June 1, 2001

The Ellsworth American, Ellsworth, ME, 7/20/00

An attack by a rabid raccoon on a Maine family's golden retrievers could have had more tragic consequences ...

Gun Laws  

Monday, November 1, 1999

Portland Press Herald, Portland, ME, 8/18/99

With her husband and older sons on a camping trip, Kathy York and her 7- and 8-year-old sons ...

Gun Laws  

Sunday, June 1, 1997

The Daily News, Bangor, ME, 3/1/97

Defense Secretary William Cohen's brother, Robert, opened the door to his Bangor, Maine, home and found himself facing ...

Gun Laws  

Sunday, October 1, 1995

The Daily News, Bangor, ME, 6/13/95

A Bangor, Maine, criminal was held for police by armed homeowners Scott Simcock and Frank Page after the ...

Gun Laws  

Monday, May 1, 1995

Kennebec Journal, Augusta, ME, 1/2/95

When a muddy man in camouflage clothes wandered up his driveway and asked for a ride, Waterboro, Maine, ...

NRA ILA

Established in 1975, the Institute for Legislative Action (ILA) is the "lobbying" arm of the National Rifle Association of America. ILA is responsible for preserving the right of all law-abiding individuals in the legislative, political, and legal arenas, to purchase, possess and use firearms for legitimate purposes as guaranteed by the Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.