Maine delegation looks open to banning ‘bump stocks’ used in Vegas shooting

Good morning from Augusta. Maine’s congressional delegation looks open to discussing a ban on so-called “bump stocks” amid a bipartisan push after the once-obscure tool was used in the Las Vegas shooting on Sunday that killed 59 and injured more than 500.

What is a bump stock? It’s a legal device using the recoil of a semi-automatic weapon — such as AR-15- or AK-47-style rifles — to increase their rate of fire, simulating fully automatic fire. It’s seen as a bit of a loophole because fully automatic weapons sold after 1986 are illegal in the U.S. (Here’s a good demonstration on the mechanics of bump firing.)

It’s looking like there is rare bipartisan agreement on this. At least three bills are in the works to ban bump stocks, according to The Hill. Rep. Chellie Pingree, a Democrat from Maine’s 1st District, is co-sponsoring one. There is also a Senate version and another is expected soon from a House Republican. Other Republicans have said they want to ban them. In a statement, U.S. Sen. Angus King, an independent who caucuses with Democrats, said he’s “encouraged” by the bipartisan talk and that it “seems sensible” that devices simulating the effect of an illegal weapon “should be restricted as well.”

Maine’s two congressional Republicans haven’t gone quite that far, but they might. Annie Clark, a spokeswoman for U.S. Sen. Susan Collins, said the Republican is “concerned” about bump stocks and believes that the issue “warrants further examination.” And U.S. Rep. Bruce Poliquin, a Republican from Maine’s 2nd District, is “open to learning more,” said spokesman Brendan Conley. Poliquin has twice been endorsed by the pro-gun rights National Rifle Association. Collins and King have moderate records on guns. Both senators voted for a background check expansion in 2013 that failed.

Reading list

  • Maine’s 2nd Congressional District voters have mixed feelings about Donald Trump. They made history when they voted to give the president one of Maine’s electoral votes in 2016 and now that he’s in power, he’s put new political focus on the northern two-thirds of the state. Even many of Trump’s supporters say they wish the president would tone down his rhetoric.
  • Funding for the federal Children’s Health Insurance Program is at risk. The program, which covers around 9 million children nationwide and 22,310 in Maine, is for children in families that earn too much to qualify for Medicaid but not enough to afford their own insurance. Funding for the program lapsed September 30 when Congress failed to renew it.
  • Maine’s court system is spending $15 million to put records online. All of them won’t be accessible to the public. Most documents are freely available at courthouses and Maine Supreme Judicial Court Chief Justice Leigh Saufley has called for online access, but that wasn’t really the recommendation given this week by a task force working on the project.
  • A climate change whistleblower from Maine has resigned because of retaliation from the Trump administration. Joel Clement, a scientist and policy expert who was born and raised in Maine, was moved from his Interior Department job and put in an accounting position in June after he publicly discussed how climate change impacts native Alaskans. He resigned Wednesday.

Yes, Virginia, there was a Santa Claus, but now he’s dead

That’s how a story in the New York Post about St. Nicholas (the real person who the fake Santa is based on) began. Archaeologists think they found St. Nick’s tomb underneath an ancient church in southern Turkey.

The real St. Nick, who lived in Europe in the 16th Century, is known for using his entire inheritance to assist the needy. “Santa Claus” wasn’t born until the 1930s in an advertisement for Coca-Cola.

Does this mean we can stop lying to our children about who brings the presents? Here’s your soundtrack. — Christopher Cousins

Today’s Daily Brief was written by Christopher Cousins and Michael Shepherd and edited by Robert Long. If you’re reading it on the BDN’s website or were forwarded it, click here to get Maine’s only newsletter on state politics via email on weekday mornings.

Michael Shepherd

About Michael Shepherd

Michael Shepherd joined the Bangor Daily News in 2015 after covering state, federal and local issues for the Kennebec Journal for three years. He's a Hallowell native who now lives in Gardiner. He graduated from the University of Maine in 2012 and is a graduate student at the University of Southern Maine's Muskie School of Public Service.