Maine Senator Says He's Drafting a Gun Ban Bill

(AP Photo/Robert F. Bukaty)

In the wake of the murders in Lewiston, Maine, Democratic congressman Jared Golden reversed his long-held position and announced he now supports a ban on so-called assault weapons. Sen. Angus King (I-ME), meanwhile, says he remains opposed to the “assault weapons” ban introduced by the late Dianne Feinstein, but he too looks to be shifting his position. On Monday, King told reporters he’s now working on a bill of his own, though he didn’t offer many specifics.


King said his bill will address the specific technologies that make such weapons especially deadly, a focus he has long advocated for as an alternative to the ban. He said it was too soon to discuss what would be in his bill, but that it would be similar to his past of approach of focusing on the functionality of weapons over their appearance.

“I want to do something that’s really going to work,” King said, adding that he has been in discussions all weekend and through Monday. “That’s what we’re working on. My goal is saving lives.”

Who, exactly, has been involved in those discussions? Everytown? Giffords? Is King reaching out to any gun owners or Second Amendment organizations like the Unified Sportsmen of Maine, or is he only talking to those folks with an ideological bent towards infringing on our fundamental right to keep and bear arms?

And what “specific technologies” does King have in mind? Supporters of S. 25 argue that particular features like a flash suppressor or an adjustable stock are part of what makes modern sporting rifles too unusual and dangerous to be owned by the average American. If King disagrees, what exactly does he believe needs to be prohibited?

The assault weapons ban sponsored by Sens. Chris Murphy, D-Conn., Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., and the late Diane Feinstein, D-Calif., would ban the sale, manufacture, transfer and importation of 205 military-style assault weapons by name. It also would ban firearms with similar characteristics, pistol grip, a forward grip, a barrel shroud, a threaded barrel or a folding/telescopic stock. Existing assault-style weapons would be largely grandfathered.

It also would ban magazines or feeding devices holding more than 10 rounds, require background checks on any future sale, trade or gifting of an assault weapon; require grandfathered weapons to be securely stored; prohibit any transfer of high-capacity ammunition magazines; and ban bump-stocks and other rapid fire devices.

King has argued that the bill focuses too much on what a weapon looks like, rather than how it functions. Focusing on looks would only allow manufacturers to change some design elements to get around the law, he said.

He told the Press Herald Editorial Board in a lengthy interview Friday that more specific measures are needed to curb gun violence, including universal background checks and banning high-capacity ammunition magazines and bump stocks, which can make a semiautomatic fire rounds like an automatic.

“We’re focused on the functionality of the weapon,” he said. “In other words, what makes it more dangerous.”


The honest answer is “nothing”, but I don’t think that’s what King wants to hear or is willing to accept. Based on his support for a ban on “high-capacity” magazines, I suspect one of the functional features he’ll be targeting is the detachable magazines that are a common feature of the vast majority of modern sporting rifles (California compliant models not included), but there could be more. If King really wants to be a trailblazer he may just introduce a bill that simply defines all semi-automatic rifles as “assault weapons”. That would certainly focus on the function of these firearms, but it would also be squarely unconstitutional.

I don’t know what King’s bill will look like when he’s ready to reveal it to the public, but I’m confident it won’t be an improvement over S. 25. Based on his comments, I’d say there’s a good chance it may actually be even worse.



Join the conversation as a VIP Member