The Maine State House is seen at dawn, Jan. 3,...

The Maine State House is seen at dawn, Jan. 3, 2024, in Augusta, Maine. A series of gun safety bills introduced after the deadliest shooting in Maine history appears to be headed toward final passage as the state Legislature races to wrap up its session the week of April 15, 2024. Credit: AP/Robert F. Bukaty

AUGUSTA, Maine — A series of gun safety bills introduced after the deadliest shooting in Maine history was headed toward final passage Wednesday as the state Legislature raced to wrap up its session.

The House voted 75-68 to enact the governor’s omnibus gun safety bill that strengthens the state’s yellow flag law, boosts background checks for private sales of guns and makes it a crime to recklessly sell a gun to a prohibited person. The bill also funds violence prevention initiatives and opens a mental health crisis receiving center in Lewiston.

A final vote from the Senate was needed to send it to the governor for her signature.

The House also endorsed two bills previously approved by the Senate: a 72-hour waiting period for gun purchases and a ban on bump stocks that can transform a regular gun into a semiautomatic weapon.

Lawmakers faced a Wednesday deadline for completing work before the end of the legislative session. Democratic Gov. Janet Mills told lawmakers in a letter that is uninterested in calling a special session to give them more time to finish their work.

“I want to be clear: the answer is an unequivocal no,” Mills wrote.

Awaiting action was a proposal for a “red flag” law sponsored by House Speaker Rachel Talbot Ross that allows family members to petition a judge to remove guns from someone who’s in a psychiatric crisis. That proposal differs from the state’s current “yellow flag” law that puts police in the lead of the process.

A measure sponsored by Talbot Ross to fund a range of mental health and violence prevention initiatives was awaiting money in the final budget.

The state has a strong hunting tradition and an active lobby aimed at protecting gun owner rights. Maine voters rejected universal background checks for firearm purchases in 2016.

The Oct. 25 shooting that killed 18 people and injured 13 others in Lewiston prompted lawmakers to act, saying constituents were demanding that they do something that could prevent future attacks.

Police were warned by family members of the shooter, an Army reservist, that he was becoming paranoid and losing his grip on reality before the attack. He was hospitalized last summer while training with his Army Reserve unit, and his best friend, a fellow reservist, warned that the man was going “to snap and do a mass shooting.” He killed himself after the attack.

Lawmakers approved a waiting period for gun purchases after an emotional debate and voted to ban bump stocks that can transform a standard weapon into a semiautomatic weapon.

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