PROPOSED BILL MAKES POSSESSION OF FILED -OFF SERIAL NUMBERS A FELONY
Measure seeks to keep untraceable guns out of the hands of criminals
AUGUSTA – A measure that seeks to increase the penalty for criminals possessing an untraceable, defaced serial number received broad support from Maine’s law enforcement at the public hearing.
The bill, LD 1160, “An Act To Make Possession of a Firearm with an Altered or Obscured Serial Number a Class C Crime,” would make possession of a firearm with an altered or obscured serial number a felony in Maine.
“As the law currently stands, there is little disincentive for criminals who a commit a crime with a stolen gun, ” said Senator Anne Haskell of Portland, the sponsor of the bill. “Obliterating a serial number is an intentional act and it speaks to the level of criminality associated with that.”
During the public hearing, it was noted that Maine law enforcement has begun seeing a dramatic increase in the number of criminal suspects from large East coast cities, particularly New York, coming to Maine and engaging in criminal behavior. Some of these suspects are in possession of firearms, reasonably believed to be stolen or otherwise ill-gotten, with defaced serial numbers making it impossible to charge and convict these suspects for receiving stolen property because it cannot be established where the guns came from.
“I think this bill addresses a critical public safety oversight in our current law,” said WIlliam Baker, former Maine Police Chief, Massachusetts Commissioner of Public Safety, and Assistant Director of Police Training at the US Department of Justice. “It would seem that gun owners and law enforcement can unite around a bill that would help keep untraceable guns out of the hands of criminals.”
The Maine Chief of Police Association testified in support of the measure.
The Criminal Justice and Public Safety Committee will be holding a work session on LD 1160, “An Act To Make Possession of a Firearm with an Altered or Obscured Serial Number a Class C Crime” in the coming weeks.