The Legislature's Judiciary Committee initially voted 6-5 Wednesday to support amended legislation, which could face House and Senate votes. Six Democrats in attendance voted in favor, while one Democrat, three Republicans and one independent lawmaker voted against the bill.
Supporters say Maine must keep firearms away from people in crisis, pointing to domestic homicides and Maine's rising firearm suicides .
But gun control efforts have long faltered in the largely rural state, where hunters tout a long history of responsible gun ownership.
Democratic Sen. Rebecca Millett's bill would allow courts to issue an "extreme risk protection order" and order the surrender of that person's firearms temporarily for 14 days or on an extended basis for 365 days.
The bill would allow such orders only when courts prove that the individual poses a danger to that person or another person.
The committee on Wednesday voted on amendments to the bill.
One amendment would lay out criteria similar to Rhode Island's for courts to consider when issuing "extreme risk protection orders." Such factors include the respondent's mental health history, the reckless brandishing of a firearm on social media, and evidence of recent attempts to acquire firearms.
The committee also considered allowing a court to then find probable cause to issue search warrants that would allow officers to search and seize firearms. That proposal would also require the court orders to inform the individuals about crisis and mental treatment resources.
Such amendments drew swift criticism from critics including committee member GOP Rep. John DeVeau, who said they challenged due process rights.
He also chastised the committee for putting forth amendments at the last moment without giving the public a chance to weigh in. He said Democrats with newfound control of state Legislatures in Maine and elsewhere are moving too quickly on so-called "red flag" bills and efforts to make it easier to receive abortions.
"I think this whole bill is nothing more than a national check-the-box thing," he said, adding: "It's: 'Let's pass everything we can.'"
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