Civil Liberties advocates have a reason to (cautiously) cheer as the Maine Senate passed L.D. 652 by a vote of 21-14, which would bring full Vermont-style Constitutional Carry to the Pine Tree State. The Portland Press Herald reports that the vote was largely – though not entirely – along party lines: three members of the party of Jackson supported the bill; two members of the party of Lincoln voted against it . . .
The bill now heads to the Maine House, which is controlled by the Democrats. Advocates of L.D. 652 seemed optimistic of its passage there, according to the Press-Herald:
David Trahan, director of the Sportsman’s Alliance of Maine, a hunting and fishing group supporting the bill, said that the bill likely has enough votes to pass in the House…. [Additionally, Gov.] LePage has not explicitly said that he’ll support L.D. 652. However, he expressed support for eliminating the permit requirement in a veto message on a bill that would have strengthened the system last year.
If the bill succeeds, it would make Maine the second state in Yankee New England to have constitutional carry. Needless to say, the possibility of this driven a few people positively out of their minds. Michael Sauschuck is one of them.
Portland Police Chief Michael Sauschuck, currently working as acting city manager, said the vote is disappointing.
“It’s a vote that ultimately hurts the safety of our communities,” Sauschuck said.
Sauschuck said the concealed weapons permitting process, which entails training and background checks for criminal history and mental health problems, is a common sense approach to carrying a firearm.
“If our bar is, ‘criminals aren’t following the rules anyway,’ well then we wouldn’t have any rules,” he said. “Picture a drug dealer walking down your street carrying a gun concealed and officers can’t do anything about that. That’s absolutely ludicrous.”
At the risk of repeating myself yet again, the purpose of laws in our constitutional republic is not simply to make lives easier for police and security services. Still, the argument put forth by Mr. Sauschuck is laughable in its illogic. If someone’s a drug dealer, and being a drug dealer is illegal, surely the police could then arrest the fellow on that basis alone? If the police simply suspect someone of being a drug dealer, and he’s walking down the street, carrying a firearm, and not actually bothering anyone else then yes, centuries of Anglo-American jurisprudence inform us that it is only fitting and proper that “officers can’t do anything about that.”
It should come as no surprise that the self-described “Everytown for Gun Safety” organization funded by billionaire plutocrat Michael Bloomberg has been pumping money into lobbying efforts as well. How much is unknown, since “[s]tate lobbying disclosure laws only require groups to report their advocacy efforts when lobbyists make direct contact with state lawmakers” something that the plutocratic organization has apparently not done. (That we know of, anyway.)
State police Maj. Christopher Grotton, however, disagreed with Bloomberg’s lobbyists:
Grotton testified that Maine’s permit system is antiquated and that there is no consistent permitting format across the state’s more than 400 municipalities. He also said the permits were not an indicator of safety, adding that state police have rejected 0.006 percent of permit applications, on average.
“It’s easy to feel that this is a step away from safety,” Grotton said, but the permit system does not prevent a dangerous person from owning or carrying a gun. He said whether an individual openly carries a gun or hides it does not have a bearing on public safety.
DISCLAIMER: The above is an opinion piece; it is not legal advice, nor does it create an attorney-client relationship in any sense. If you need legal advice in any matter, you are strongly urged to hire and consult your own counsel. This post is entirely my own, and does not represent the positions, opinions, or strategies of my firm or clients.