AUGUSTA — A bill to allow carrying concealed weapons at Maine’s public colleges and another to permit guns in cars at K-12 schools were both effectively defeated in committee Thursday.

The college concealed carry bill was rejected in part because several Republicans on the Joint Committee on Education and Cultural Affairs thought the current system – which allows trustees to set gun policy for their campuses – was working.

Maine’s public colleges currently forbid guns on campus except by express permission from officials and in certain situations, such as a visiting law enforcement official. Some schools allow students to lock up their guns with campus or local police while they are in residence.

“For example, at Orono, very often people hunt on the way in, can lock up their guns on campus and then hunt on the way home. That seems to be a very reasonable way to do that,” said Sen. Brian Langley, R-Ellsworth, who voted against L.D. 1370.

The bill, defeated 11-2, would have required colleges to allow people to carry concealed firearms on campus, except in dorms and at public venues, such as a stadium or concert hall, when signs forbidding guns during an event are posted.

Representatives of the University of Maine System, the Maine Community College System and Maine Maritime Academy, where the bill would apply, all opposed the legislation.

Ten states allow students to carry firearms on campus. The most recent legislation was signed by the Georgia governor last week.

State law allows anyone 21 or older to carry a concealed weapon without a permit.

Also Thursday, the committee rejected a bill that would have allowed guns to be carried in cars at child pickup or drop-off areas at K-12 schools.

Although supporters offered to amend the bill to require firearms be unloaded and in a locked box or gun rack, the original bill, L.D. 988, failed 9-4.

“I just don’t like the idea of guns being on a school campus, period,” said Rep. David McCrea, D-Fort Fairfield. “I understand it’s an inconvenience in some places or in certain seasons. But the idea of someone coming onto the grounds with a gun makes me terribly nervous.”

In 2007, in the wake of the mass shooting at Virginia Tech, the Maine Legislature determined that the state would neither ban nor permit guns on public college campuses, leaving it up to the institutions. In 2009, that was expanded to private colleges in Maine.

Maine is one of 23 states that leave the decision up to each college or university, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.

Noel K. Gallagher can be reached at 791-6387 or at:

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