PORTLAND, Maine (NEWS CENTER) -- Mayors from across the country, including some here in Maine, held events Thursday to focus more attention on gun control measures in Congress. Augusta Mayor Bill Stokes and Hallowell Mayor Charlotte Warren asked people at the University of Maine - Augusta to sign a petition demanding Congress act, while Portland Mayor Michael Brennan joined former Lewiston Mayor Larry Gilbert and other gun control advocates for a news conference in Portland.
The mayors are calling for universal background checks for gun sales, a ban on assault weapons and high-capacity clips and tougher federal gun trafficking laws.
Stokes said, "No rights are absolute. Always in a democratic society we have to understand that there can be reasonable regulations. And that's what we think these are."
Advocates for gun owners say none of these measures would have prevented the Sandy Hook murders, and each chips away at Americans' Constitutional right to bear arms. Jeff Weinstein of the Maine Gun Owners Association says he isn't necessarily opposed to background checks, but it's important that those checks don't lead to a national gun owner registry. "I think it's very important to realize that the right to defend themselves against a government that's out of control is very very important," Weinstein said.
There are a number of bills in the Maine legislature this session addressing these issues. One would require universal background checks, except for sales between family members. Another would require the Department of Education to develop new safety standards for school buildings, like bulletproof glass and safe rooms.