Federal law establishes a baseline national standard regarding individuals’ eligibility to acquire and possess firearms. Under federal law, people are generally prohibited from purchasing or possessing firearms if they have been convicted of a felony or some domestic violence misdemeanors, or if they are subject to certain court orders related to domestic violence or a serious mental condition. However, federal law merely provides a floor, and has notable gaps that allow individuals who have demonstrated significant risk factors for violence or self-harm to legally acquire and possess guns.
Maine law provides that a person may not possess a firearm if he or she has been convicted of committing, or found not criminally responsible by reason of insanity of committing, a crime under:
- A law of Maine that is punishable by imprisonment for one year or more;
- A federal law that is punishable by imprisonment for a term exceeding one year;
- A law of another state that is punishable by imprisonment for a term exceeding one year, excluding crimes classified as misdemeanors in the state carrying a penalty of imprisonment of two years or less;
- A law of any other state that is “elementally substantially similar” to a crime in Maine that is punishable by a term of imprisonment for one year or more; or
- A law in a proceeding in which the prosecuting authority was required to prove that the crime was committed with the use of a dangerous weapon.1
In addition, a person may not possess a firearm if that person has been adjudicated to have engaged in conduct as a juvenile that, if committed by an adult, would have been a disqualifying conviction listed above if bodily injury to another person was threatened and resulted, or if the prosecuting authority was required to prove that the crime was committed with the use of a dangerous weapon, regardless of bodily injury.2 A person who has been adjudicated under federal or state law to have engaged in conduct as a juvenile that, if committed by an adult, would have been a disqualifying conviction as listed above, but which didn’t threaten and result in bodily injury, may not own or have in his or her possession or control a firearm for three years following completion of any disposition imposed, or until that person reaches age 18, whichever is later.3
Maine also prohibits possession of a firearm by anyone who has been:
- Committed involuntarily to a hospital pursuant to an order of the District Court after a hearing because the person was found to present “a likelihood of serious harm,” as defined under Maine law;
- Found not criminally responsible by reason of insanity with respect to a criminal charge; or
- Found not competent to stand trial with respect to a criminal charge.4
Maine law also incorporates the federal prohibitions against firearm possession by any person who:
- Is a fugitive from justice;
- Is an unlawful user of or is addicted to any controlled substance;
- Is an alien who is illegally or unlawfully in the United States or who was admitted under a nonimmigrant visa;
- Has been discharged from the United States Armed Forces under dishonorable conditions; or
- Has renounced that person’s U.S. citizenship.5
See the Maine Domestic Violence and Firearms section for information about Maine’s firearm prohibitions for people convicted of or subject to court orders for domestic abuse.
Restoration of Firearm Rights for People Convicted of Felonies and Juvenile Offenses: A person subject to the prohibition against firearm possession because of a criminal conviction or juvenile adjudication may, after the expiration of five years from the date the person is finally discharged from the sentences imposed, apply to the Maine Commissioner of Public Safety for a permit to possess a firearm (known in Maine as a “permit to carry a firearm”). The Commissioner must notify local law enforcement about the application, and local law enforcement is given an opportunity to object.6 The Commissioner may deny an application even if no objection is filed, and must deny an application if a proper objection is filed. A permit to possess a firearm issued to a convicted felon or juvenile offender remains valid for four years.7 For provisions restoring firearms rights to the mentally ill, see the Maine Mental Health Reporting section.
For information on the background check process used to enforce these provisions, see the Maine Background Check Procedures section.
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- Me. Stat., 15 § 393(1).[↩]
- Me. Stat., 15 § 393(1)(C).[↩]
- Me. Stat., 15 § 393(1-A).[↩]
- Me. Stat., 15 § 393(1)(E).[↩]
- Me. Stat., 15 § 393(1)(F-J).[↩]
- The relevant procedures were amended in 2009. See 2009 Me. ALS 503.[↩]
- Me. Stat., 15 § 393(2). A convicted felon or juvenile offender granted a permit to possess a firearm may not be issued a permit to carry a concealed handgun. Id.[↩]