AUGUSTA – A bill to shield identifying information on concealed-handgun permits, strongly supported by Maine’s gun-rights community passed the Maine Senate with a two-thirds majority Wednesday, clearing the way for immediate enactment as emergency legislation.

The bill, approved 27-8, will go to Gov. Paul LePage for a signature after procedural votes.

The House approved the bill Tuesday on a 106-40 vote.

The bill, L.D. 345, sponsored by Rep. Corey Wilson, R-Augusta, was backed by the Sportsman’s Alliance of Maine, the National Rifle Association and the Maine Coalition to End Domestic Violence, among other groups.

It would make names, dates of birth and addresses of permit holders confidential and allow the release of aggregate statistical data.

The gender, places of residence and age ranges of permit holders would also be public.

The bill gained momentum after a public records request by the Bangor Daily News for information on all permits was condemned by Republican lawmakers and LePage.

A March hearing was dominated by gun-rights proponents who supported Wilson’s bill. They far outnumbered public-access advocates, led by the American Civil Liberties Union of Maine and media groups.

Sen. Stan Gerzofsky, D-Brunswick, said Wednesday that the bill is a “reaction to a reaction to a reaction that never really had anything to do with our state.”

Gerzofsky said he was concerned that the bill would leave concealed-handgun data in the hands of “Big Brother” and members of the public wouldn’t be able to oversee it.

Sen. Linda Valentino, D-Saco, who authored an amendment to the bill providing for the release of aggregate permit data, said her support was secured by testimony from police and domestic violence advocates.

 

Michael Shepherd can be contacted at 620-7015 or at:

mshepherd@mainetoday.com