Tuesday, December 10, 2013
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Or should he listen to whatever was keeping him awake all Tuesday night? Also known as his conscience.
"My wife and I talked about it and she told me she felt quite strongly that while I had been a lifetime supporter of the Second Amendment, every now and then you have to do the right thing," Tuttle said.
Like any rational person, Tuttle knew the legislation was not, as its opponents reflexively claimed, yet another "attack" on the Second Amendment. Rather, he concluded, L.D. 1240 simply took a few much-needed steps toward keeping firearms away from those relatively few people who have no business owning one.
And so just before the final roll call on Wednesday, when fellow Sen. Stan Gerzofsky, D-Brunswick (a co-sponsor of the bill), looked over with question marks in his eyes, Tuttle took a deep breath and quietly gave Gerzofsky a thumbs-up.
And moments later, thanks to Tuttle's vote, the bill passed.
A flip-flop? Some on Tuttle's home answering machine and Facebook page certainly think so.
But make no mistake about it -- this is not one of those malodorous deals where a lawmaker votes his conscience only, in the name of political expediency, to turn around and violate it.
This is actually the opposite -- a lawmaker who toes the NRA line year after year until one day, his conscience tells him he no longer can.
End of story? If only.
L.D. 1240, which also squeaked past the House on a 78-71 final vote, now faces an almost-certain veto by Gov. Paul LePage. The chances of either legislative chamber mounting the two-thirds majority needed to override that veto are, alas, somewhere between nil and "don't even try."
Why, then, did Tuttle risk re-election next year over a piece of legislation that was doomed from the start?
"Every now and then you have an issue that comes along and really tugs at you," Tuttle said. "I'm hoping my constituents will understand that."
And if they don't? If the NRA keeps Tuttle in its crosshairs until he's replaced by someone who knows how to keep his head down, will it all have been worth it?
"I think so," replied Tuttle. "Because if you really can't represent yourself and how you feel, you probably shouldn't be doing this job."
So go ahead, NRA, call out your political storm troopers and drop that man from an "A" to an "F."
To an ever-growing number of Mainers, it stands for "fearless."
Bill Nemitz can be contacted at 791-6323 or at: