How did Mainers vote on the 1994 assault weapons ban? How has that changed?

Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), supporter of an assault weapons ban

In 1994, Congress passed an assault weapons ban as part of the Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act of 1994 (Public Law 103-322).

Back then, Maine had one Republican member of the House of Representatives, Olympia Snowe, and one Democratic member, Tom Andrews. Both voted for the bill.

And in the Senate, Maine was represented by one Republican, Bill Cohen, and one Democrat, George Mitchell. Both voted for the bill.

In sum, in 1994 Maine’s congressional delegate voted unanimously in favor of a bill that included an assault weapons ban.

Now, none of those individuals will be in the next Congress. What about that group of federal representatives from Maine?

Republican Senator Collins supported extending the assault weapons ban in 2004. As she told a constituent, the bill she supported “would have altered the ban’s sunset date from September 13, 2004 to September 13, 2014.”

When running for Senate earlier this year, Senator-Elect Angus King said he did not support an extension of the assault weapons ban. King is an Independent who is caucusing with Senate Democrats.

Democratic Rep. Chellie Pingree has supported legislation banning high capacity ammunition magazines.

Based on statements made on his campaign’s website, Democratic Rep. Mike Michaud appears to oppose a ban on assault weapons.

Right now it looks like there is less support in Maine’s incoming congressional delegation for an assault weapons ban than there was in 1994.

However, following the horrific shooting in Connecticut and, as legislation is developed in the coming months, Maine’s federal officials could shift their positions. It’s also possible that, while they might not support a ban on assault weapons, they could support proposals for smaller ammunition magazines.


King appears to have reconsidered his position, or at least to be open to a reconsideration. According to the Portland Press Herald:

King said Sunday that there is sufficient reason to take a close look at assault weapons and large-capacity magazines.

“Given the role both appear to have played in this and other recent incidents, this discussion is vitally necessary as we try to balance the rights of law-abiding gun owners under the Second Amendment and the interest we all share in the safety of ourselves and our children,” King said in a statement to the Portland Press Herald. “I intend to engage the gun-owning community in Maine in this discussion as well as those who advocate for stronger regulation and control.”


Amy Fried

About Amy Fried

Amy Fried loves Maine's sense of community and the wonderful mix of culture and outdoor recreation. She loves politics in three ways: as an analytical political scientist, a devoted political junkie and a citizen who believes politics matters for people's lives. Fried is Professor of Political Science at the University of Maine. Her views do not reflect those of her employer or any group to which she belongs.