Politics

Maine’s senators stop short of calling for outright assault weapons ban, eye ‘functionality’ measures

Congress has a renewed spotlight on efforts to pass an assault weapons ban after this week’s mass shooting in Maine. But the state’s senators aren’t quite there yet.

Both Sen. Susan Collins (R) and Angus King (I) say they support measures meant to limit the functionality of high-capacity weapons, but they do not support an outright assault weapons ban.

“We had an assault weapon ban, which I supported, that was in effect for 10 years. It applied to, I believe, 17 or 19 styles of weapons,” Collins said at a press conference Thursday. “Later, the late Sen. Dianne Feinstein proposed an expansion that would have covered 157 weapons. And it was based not on functionality, but on cosmetic features.”

“I think it is more important that we ban very high capacity magazines. I think that would have more input and more effectiveness,” Collins added.

King also says he is supportive of measures focused on functionality, like banning bump stocks and high-capacity magazines. But he is not in favor of an assault weapons ban, which he believes gun manufacturers could work around to produce similar firearms.

Politically speaking, King and Collins are walking a tricky line. Maine is a state with relatively low crime rates — a factor that made the shooting this week all the more shocking to residents. And it was done with an assault weapon obtained by an suspect with known mental health issues.

But it is also a state with a proud history of hunting and gun ownership. While Maine has passed some gun legislation at the state level, like “yellow flag” laws, the subject is highly divisive among residents.

Of note: Maine Democratic Rep. Jared Golden reversed his position this week and said he is now in favor of an assault weapons ban, saying “the time has now come for me to take responsibility for this failure.”

Congress has a renewed spotlight on efforts to pass an assault weapons ban after this week’s mass shooting in Maine. But the state’s senators aren’t quite there yet.
Both Sen. Susan Collins (R) and Angus King (I) say they support measures meant to limit the functionality of high-capacity weapons, but they do not support an outright assault weapons ban.
“We had an assault weapon ban, which I supported, that was in effect for 10 years. It applied to, I believe, 17 or 19 styles of weapons,” Collins said at a press conference Thursday. “Later, the late Sen. Dianne Feinstein proposed an expansion that would have covered 157 weapons. And it was based not on functionality, but on cosmetic features.”
“I think it is more important that we ban very high capacity magazines. I think that would have more input and more effectiveness,” Collins added.
King also says he is supportive of measures focused on functionality, like banning bump stocks and high-capacity magazines. But he is not in favor of an assault weapons ban, which he believes gun manufacturers could work around to produce similar firearms.
Politically speaking, King and Collins are walking a tricky line. Maine is a state with relatively low crime rates — a factor that made the shooting this week all the more shocking to residents. And it was done with an assault weapon obtained by an suspect with known mental health issues.
But it is also a state with a proud history of hunting and gun ownership. While Maine has passed some gun legislation at the state level, like “yellow flag” laws, the subject is highly divisive among residents.
Of note: Maine Democratic Rep. Jared Golden reversed his position this week and said he is now in favor of an assault weapons ban, saying “the time has now come for me to take responsibility for this failure.”  

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