AUGUSTA — Legislation that would have allowed firearms onto school grounds in Maine, provided they were locked in an occupied vehicle and unloaded, was unanimously rejected by the Maine House on Tuesday.

The bill, offered by Rep. John Martin, D-Eagle Lake, was introduced prior to a school shooting in Parkland, Florida, that claimed 17 lives, and was originally meant to allow parents who hunt to be able to pick up or drop off their children at school without having to remove their weapons from their vehicles.

But Martin, in the wake of the Parkland tragedy, asked that the bill be rejected, saying the measure was being politicized and the timing for relaxing gun laws on school grounds was not right.

The measure would have allowed the owner of a firearm to bring the weapon on to school grounds provided it was locked in a gun rack or case and was unloaded, while the firearm’s owner remained in the vehicle with the weapon.

The legislation was opposed by the Maine School Boards Association, Maine School Superintendents Association, the Maine Principals’ Association, and the Maine Gun Safety Coalition, among others.

“This legislation left school officials with the potentially fatal responsibility of identifying whether or not a gun is unloaded and locked during school drop-off time with the lives of countless parents and children hanging in the balance,” House Speaker Sara Gideon, D-Freeport, said in a prepared statement. “As we begin the difficult and critical work of improving school safety and working to prevent gun violence, this bill would have taken us a step backwards.”

The bill faces additional votes in the Maine Senate, but without House support is unlikely to move forward.

Scott Thistle can be contacted at 713-6720 or at:

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