2A Advocate Cries Foul Over Waiting Period Vote in Maine Senate

Townhall Media

Now that Maine's legislative session has officially wrapped up, Gov. Janet Mills is on the clock to act on the bills that have been sent her way. It's a given that the Democratic governor will sign the bills that were her response to last fall's shooting in Lewiston, Maine, which include tweaks to the state's "yellow flag" law and requiring background checks on all guns sold at gun shows and those that are advertised for sale. On today's Bearing Arms' Cam & Co, however, Sportsmans Alliance of Maine executive director David Traham says he's fairly confident that Mills will veto one measure that wasn't included in her own legislative package: a 72-hour waiting period on gun sales. 


"I've had several conversations with the governor since its passage and I'm feeling pretty decent that she'll veto it. I don't think she really supported it at any part in the session. She made that known. I was there when she made it known, so there's a chance that she could veto it," Trahan said. 

Even if Mills does put pen to paper or allows the waiting period bill to become law without her signature, there could still be legal challenges to the measure; not only on constitutional grounds, but because of how the bill was passed. 

Trahan, who served four terms in the state House and two in the state Senate, tells Bearing Arms that he became well versed in parliamentary procedures while he was in the legislature, and believes the state Senate likely violated its own policies when the waiting period bill came up for its final vote. 

"I was sitting in the Senate chamber when the 72-hour waiting period bill was being debated, and I knew immediately when I heard the Senate President say that they would be pairing votes, to pay attention."

As Trahan explains, pairing votes is a parliamentary maneuver that can be used to pass bills even though they might fail a floor vote. In this instance, Trahan says the floor vote was actually 17-16 opposed to the waiting period bill, with two Democrat senators absent. Two other Democrats, both of whom voted against the bill, essentially took their votes off the table by allowing them to be "paired" with "yes" votes that weren't actually cast by the absent senators, canceling out their opposition and allowing the bill to pass 16-15. 


The practice isn't illegal, but Trahan says there are specific procedures that must be followed when votes are paired, and he doesn't believe those were in place when the vote was held. 

"I took photographs of the vote, I retained the information, and I immediately went to the Republican leadership; their attorney, their parliamentarian. I said, 'you need to challenge this.' First of all, there's paperwork that's required. You have to have written permission from the Senate President, you have to have requests from all the legislators, and I told them I want to see that documentation because I don't think they have it. 

That was last week and we still have not received the paperwork. So, I'm gonna ask again this week for all that paperwork, and if I don't receive it I'll be making a call to the NRA lawyers, explaining how the rule works, the fact that they refused to supply the documentation, and ask them to file a legal challenge to the passage of that legislation."

That wasn't the only suspect parliamentary procedure deployed by Democratic leadership, according to Trahan. Anti-gun leadership also held a single hearing on multiple gun bills and limited individual testimony to just two minutes; hardly time for Trahan and other Second Amendment supporters to lay out all of the problems with the legislation in question. Trahan suspects that House and Senate leaders may even have tried to reduce the number of opponents who were there to testify by closing public access to the state capitol parking garage, and says that Democrats also allowed all of the gun control supporters to testify first, leaving opponents to testify after normal business hours when some of the statehouse reporters had left for the day. 


It kind of reminds me of the legislative shenanigans we've seen in Massachusetts surrounding the House and Senate's competing gun control package, where gun owners have also been denied the opportunity to testify on bills despite substantial changes and amendments. 

If Mills ends up vetoing the waiting period bill this may all become moot, but it's good to know there are multiple routes to challenge the bill if she does decide to allow legislation to take effect. Be sure to check out the entire conversation with SAM's David Trahan in the video window below, and if you're a Mainer who supports the right to keep and bear arms, now's the time to contact the governor's office and encourage her to just say no to waiting periods. 

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