Sunday, May 03, 2015

ME: Bloomberg Money Opposing Constitutional Carry

Maine may be the most likely state to pass constitutional carry next.  The state is one of those which has has preserved open carry without government permission, though that applies to over 60% of the states.   In addition, it has a quirky shall issue permit system that gives a little bit of arbitrary power, in the form of a "good moral character" requirement, to local police or to elected officials, if there is no police chief.  The system was created in 1985, one of the early "shall issue" laws.

These characteristics have lead to an effective campaign to reform the law by restoring the legal right to carry concealed without a permit.   The earliest ban on concealed carry in Maine that I could find, was passed in 1967.   That would be consistent with a peak in second amendment infringements occurring while Lyndon Johnson was president.  Any further historical information from alert readers, would be appreciated. 

If Maine passes constitutional carry, it would join Vermont, Alaska, Arizona, Wyoming, Arkansas, and Kansas.  Mississippi passed a bill that has been characterized as "90% constitution carry". 

Maine came within one vote of passing constitutional carry in 2013.   Majorities of both houses are signed on as sponsors of the bill this year, as L.D. 652.   The bill has had strong grassroots support.   The governor has a record as a second amendment supporter.  Then Bloomberg money, in the form of ads paid for by the Bloomberg funded groups Everytown for Gun Safety  and Maine's chapter of Moms Demand Action, made an impact.  From
Maine’s law enforcement community split over the issue, with Maine State Police supporting an amended version of the bill and the Maine Chiefs of Police Association actively opposing the measure. Meanwhile, the national group Everytown for Gun Safety and the Maine chapter of Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America have blanketed several of the state’s major news publication websites – including the Portland Press Herald’s – with ads urging citizens to tell legislators to oppose the bill.
The Legislature's Criminal Justice Committee voted not to pass the bill 7-3.  The Bloomberg funded ads gave cover for a Democrat Committee member on the criminal justice committee to vote against the bill, even though they were a co-sponsor:
The full Legislature has no obligation to adopt the committee’s majority recommendation. And with 96 of the Legislature’s 186 members listed as co-sponsors of the bill, supporters could try to pass the bill in the Republican-controlled Senate and the Democratic-controlled House. But committee testimony or pressure from constituents could prompt lawmakers to change sides on the issue. For instance, Rep. Charlotte Warren, D-Hallowell, is listed among the co-sponsors, but voted against the bill in the Criminal Justice Committee.
 L.D. 652 is far from dead.   The bill's sponsor, energetic Senator Eric Brakey, R-Aubin, said that the setback was expected.    The chief obstacle, of course is the Democrat controlled House, with a Democrat majority of  80 out of 151.  The bill has 81 co-sponsors in the House.   

While Senator Brakey seems extremely competent and persuasive, Michael Bloomberg's advertising money may sway enough of the Democrat leadership to kill the bill.  I could be wrong.  It was very close only two years ago.

©2015 by Dean Weingarten: Permission to share is granted when this notice is included.
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