Maine has relatively weak laws to disarm hate that allow people to keep and access firearms, including assault weapons, after they have been convicted of violent hate crimes.
Access to Guns for People Convicted of Hate Crimes in Maine
|Violence with Severe Bodily Injury||Violence with Bodily Injury||Other Crimes Involving Intentional Use of Force||Threats with Deadly Weapons|
Other Credible Threats to Physical Safety
|Federal Law||Very limited or no access||Some access||Some access||Some access|
|State Law||Very limited or no access||Some access||Some access||Some access|
Maine authorizes (but does not require) courts to weigh hate motivation as a factor in criminal sentencing, but does not reclassify the severity of hate crimes or authorize sentences for hate crimes above the maximum term courts may already impose for the underlying crime.1Maine also makes it a Class D offense (see below) to use force or threats of force to intentionally injure, intimidate, or threaten another person to interfere with their free exercise of any legal right or privilege.2 People convicted of this crime are not restricted from accessing guns unless they used a deadly weapon.
Maine classifies crimes ranging from class A offenses (the most serious) to class E offenses (the least serious).3 Class D and E crimes are analogous to misdemeanors and are punishable by less than one year in prison, while Class A, B, and C crimes are analogous to felonies, punishable by up to five years or more.4 Maine also reclassifies the severity of some crimes if prosecutors prove the offense was committed with the use of a dangerous weapon.5
Maine generally prohibits people from accessing firearms if they have been convicted of a crime punishable by at least one year in prison (Class A, B, and C crimes),6 or of a crime in which prosecutors proved the offense was committed with the use of a dangerous weapon.7 As a result, people convicted of violent hate crimes are generally only prohibited from accessing firearms in Maine, under state and federal law, if they are convicted of crimes involving intentional infliction of serious physical injury, or the use of a deadly weapon.8
However, people convicted of other violent hate crimes generally remain eligible to access firearms, under state and federal law, including crimes involving intentional physical injury, use of force,9 and credible threats of violence without proven “use” of a dangerous weapon.10
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- Me. Rev. Stat. Ann. tit. 17-A, § 1501(8); see also, Me. Rev. Stat. Ann. tit. 17-A, § 1604. (Notably, this law does not include a victim’s ethnicity, gender, or gender identity as protected categories).
- Me. Rev. Stat. Ann. tit. 17, § 2931.
- Me. Rev. Stat. Ann. tit. 17-A, § 1604. See also, Maine State Legislature, “What is Maine’s Law On: Felonies and Misdemeanors,” available at https://legislature.maine.gov/lawlibrary/what-is-maines-law-on-felonies-misdemeanors/9465.
- Me. Rev. Stat. Ann. tit. 17-A, § 1604(1).
- Me. Rev. Stat. Ann. tit. 17-A, § 1604(5). Class D crimes involving weapons become Class C crimes, and therefore trigger both state and federal firearm restrictions. See, e.g., State v. Gilbert, 473 A.2d 1273, fn. 1 (Me. 1984).
- There is a very slight difference between Maine and federal law’s firearm prohibitions since Maine prohibits people convicted of Maine law offenses punishable by at least one year in prison (i.e., exactly one year in prison or more), while federal law prohibits firearm possession by those convicted of offenses punishable by over one year. Me. Rev. Stat. Ann. tit. 15 § 393(1)(A-1).
- Me. Rev. Stat. Ann. tit. 15 § 393(1)(A-1)(5).
- See, e.g., “Aggravated assault.” Me. Rev. Stat. Ann. tit. 17-A, § 208 (Class A or B crime); “Criminal threatening with a firearm,” Me. Rev. Stat. Ann. tit. 17-A, § 209 (Class C crime); “Aggravated reckless conduct,” Me. Rev. Stat. Ann. tit. 17-A, § 213 (Class B crime).
- See, e.g., “Assault,” Me. Rev. Stat. Ann. tit. 17-A, § 207(1)(A) (Class D crime).
- See, e.g., “Criminal threatening,” “Terrorizing,” and “Stalking.” Me. Rev. Stat. Ann. tit. 17-A, §§ 209; 210(1)(A); 210-A (Class D crimes).