The Maine Legislature approved a bill that restricts the ability of some mental health patients to have guns, but rejected a version known as the "community protection" act.

The Maine House voted 78-60 Wednesday, June 20, to approve the minority report of the Judiciary Committee for LD 1884.

This approved bill would authorize a court to order a person admitted to a "progressive treatment program" not to possess firearms, muzzle-loading firearms, bows, crossbows or other specified dangerous weapons for the duration of the patient's court-ordered participation in the program.

Possession of a firearm by a patient in violation of such an order would be a Class D crime.

The law requires the law enforcement officer to whom a patient surrenders a firearm to exercise reasonable care to avoid loss, damage or reduction in value of the surrendered firearm.

Once the court order expires, the court must promptly notify state and federal law enforcement that the order has been lifted.

The bill is scaled back from the majority report of the Judiciary Committee, which would have allowed a law enforcement officer, a relative or a household member to file a petition with a state court for a temporary community protection order without the subject of the order being notified. If the court found sufficient cause to believe that the person was a threat to themselves or others, the order would be issued.

The court order would have a person surrender their firearms for 21 days.

The court would have been required to hold a hearing with all sides notified if the order was to be extended beyond the original 21 days.

A person who possessed firearms in violation of a community protection order would have been charged with a Class D crime and if convicted would have been prohibited from having a gun for two additional years.

Rep. John Spear, a South Thomaston Democrat, said he supported the majority report and was frustrated about its defeat and voted against the scaled-back version in protest.

He said the original bill was a reasonable one to protect the public.

"You always hear people say it's not about guns, it's about mental illness. Well, this bill would have addressed that," Spear said.

The majority report was rejected 86-53 in the House. Democratic Reps. Spear, Pinny Beebe-Center of Rockland, and Walter Kumiega III of Deer Isle voted for the majority report, while Reps. Owen Casas, independent of Rockport; Paula Sutton, R-Warren, and Abden Simmons, R-Waldoboro voted against the measure.

The scaled-back bill was approved later in the day on a 78-60 tally.

Beebe-Center, Casas and Kumiega voted for the bill.

Spear, Sutton, and Simmons voted against the minority report that gained approval in the House.

The Senate later voted for the bill. There was no roll-call vote in the Senate.

"This bill carefully balances the rights of responsible gun owners and the safety of our communities. It only allows the courts to take away someone’s guns temporarily after they have been committed to a mental health treatment program. It is narrowly focused as to not infringe on the rights off law-abiding citizens," Miramant said.

Casas said the bill that was approved was "a reasonable and modest safeguard in preventing unnecessary gun violence."

He said he felt the legislation would be "helpful getting services to folks, good folks, that need help, whether that be mental or behavioral health needs, therapy, medication etc. We should always do our best to protect our community from violence and help our neighbors that might be struggling."

Rep. Sutton said after re-reading the amendment she could have voted for it and was not unhappy that it passed. The bill had gone through significant changes since its introduction, Sutton said.

The bill still needs the signature of Republican Gov. Paul LePage before it becomes law.