Maine Lawmakers Vote To Temporarily Shield Private Information Of Concealed Weapon Carriers
The names of Mainers who have concealed weapons permits will remain confidential. At least for now.Tuesday, Maine lawmakers passed an emergency bill to temporarily shield that information. Tuesday afternoon the governor signed it.LePage’s emergency bill quickly made it’s way through votes in the Senate and the House. The measure temporarily protects the private information of concealed firearms permit holders from being made public.The moratorium lasts until April 30, giving lawmakers time to consider Representative Corey Wilson’s bill that would shield the information permanently. The final vote in the house wasn’t close, 129-11, but it came after some debate.On the floor of the House, Wilson talked about an email he received from a constituent thanking him for his efforts. He said the woman who contacted him was the victim of domestic violence and had recently applied for a concealed weapons permit as she still lives in fear of her abuser. “Her fear essentially was that if he had obtained that information he could legally acquire currently, he would not only know where she lives, he would also know she had a concealed weapons permit which she did not have before,” Wilson said. “Now if he happened to acquire her address and wanted to come to her home, he now knows she has a firearm and would potentially bring one of his own.” A small faction of Democrats disagreed with their party leaders and spoke up. “This is not a 2nd amendment issue, this is a Freedom of Access Act issue,” Freedom Democrat Brian Jones said. “What we’re asking this body to do is to suspend first amendment rights of transparency in our government to solve a non-existent constitutional emergency. We’re using this as a political football.”Meanwhile, one Republican argued that requiring Mainers to obtain a concealed weapons permit in the first place could potentially be unconstitutional. “When we talk about the constitutionality of this bill, how constitutional is it for us to have to sign up onto a data base in order to carry a concealed weapon, when that right is affirmed to us under the second amendment in the U.S. Constitution as well as our Maine State Constitution where it says that right shall never be questioned,” said Chelsea Republican Deb Sanderson.The final vote in the Senate was 33-0. The governor signed the bill as soon as it landed on his desk.The action comes days after the Bangor Daily News caused a firestorm by requesting the names and addresses of concealed weapon permit holders. The paper dropped its request after causing public outrage.Republican leaders who led the charge against the Bangor Daily News were pleased with Tuesday’s outcome. “What I saw today in a house vote of 129 people, well over the 101 that were required, really is an affirmation of the steps that leadership in the Democratic and Republican parties took along with the chief executive to protect Maine people,” said House Minority Leader Ken Fredette. Skowhegan Democrat Jeff McCabe said he received countless emails from constituents who asked him to support the measure. “But as this issue has unfolded over the weekend, I’ve heard from people that sort of surprised me that they even had a concealed weapons permit. That really weighs heavy on me,” McCabe said.Public hearings on the bill to permanently shield the information are expected in the coming weeks.