February 28, 2013

Business safety concerns vs. gun permit holders

A 1996 shooting on one Maine company's property remains vivid in the mind of a former executive who tried to find which employees had weapons.

By Steve Mistler smistler@pressherald.com
State House Bureau

(Continued from page 1)

John Peters, former president of Down East Energy

He emphasized that he couldn't speak on behalf of the new owners, only the former ones, the Morrells, the Brunswick family that owned operated Downeast Energy for more than 80 years.

Downeast's records request didn't yield any information because the state police don't have a central database of concealed-weapons permit holders.

Peters requested permit information from local police departments but gave up when he realized that his workers lived in many towns.

Nonetheless, he still thinks the information should be public.

"Personally speaking, I've tried to understand the claim ... that publishing such information will only give bad guys the ability to know which good guys have guns," said Peters. "I'm sorry, but I don't buy it."

Peters said he plans to testify against Republican Rep. Corey Wilson's bill to make concealed-weapons data private permanently. It's unclear whether other business people will join him.

Peter Gore, the lobbyist for the Maine State Chamber of Commerce, said his organization hasn't taken a position on the bill and probably won't.

The chamber will support a bill sponsored by Sen. Stan Gerzofsky, D-Brunswick, that would repeal the 2011 law allowing concealed-weapons permit holders to leave guns in their vehicles at work, regardless of company policy.

"It was never a gun issue for us. It was a private property issue," Gore said Thursday. "We would have made the same argument if employers wanted to make sure their employees didn't leave swords in their vehicles. Employers want to choose what takes place on their private property, and employers lost that choice (in 2011)."

Asked whether employers have a right to know whether their employees hold concealed-weapons permits, Gore said, "That's not for me to say. That's up to the Legislature."

Peters said his support for Gerzofsky's bill and opposition to Wilson's bill don't reflect a stance on guns.

"Our effort has nothing to do with your right to carry a concealed weapon," he said. "It has everything to do with our right to determine what happens on our property."

Wilson's bill will be heard by the Judiciary Committee on March 12. The Criminal Justice Committee has not yet scheduled a hearing on Gerzofsky's bill.

Steve Mistler can be contacted at 620-7016 or at:

smistler@pressherald.com

 

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