February 12, 2013

Maine bill would make concealed-carry info private

Supporters say concealed-weapon carriers are mostly law-abiding citizens, so there's no reason to have their names and addresses be public record.

By Michael Shepherd mshepherd@mainetoday.com
State House Bureau

(Continued from page 1)

click image to enlarge

In this January 2013 file photo, Rep. Corey Wilson, second from left, looks over a table of weapons with two other lawmakers and Richard Beausoleil, right, of the Kennebec County Emergency Management Agency at the Senator Inn and Spa in Augusta. Wilson, R-Augusta, has submitted a bill that would make information contained in concealed-carry permits private.

Staff photo by Joe Phelan

David Trahan, executive director of the sportsman's alliance, said the New York newspaper's map was reason enough to protect information on firearms permits.

"If you're a bad guy wanting to set up shop in a town, what better to know than where the guns are?" he said. "It's like a deterrent not to know."

Robert Schwartz, executive director of the Maine Chiefs of Police Association, said that group hasn't reviewed the bill yet, but he personally supports its aim.

He said the measure could benefit police by reducing the potential for break-ins or threats against permit-holders -- although that hasn't been a problem in Maine to date.

"I think that those bills like that could be helpful to law enforcement," Schwartz said. "They could prevent things from happening."

The bill could see a challenge, however, from pro-public access groups.

Jeff Ham, an editor at the Portland Press Herald and executive director of the Maine Press Association, a trade group that represents many of the state's daily and weekly newspapers, said the association will likely oppose Wilson's bill.

Ham said he has yet to review the bill, but he contended that while publication of the map in New York raised questions of journalistic ethics and fairness, that does not support an argument to remove information from the public record.

"It's safe to say we think this is a really bad idea," Ham said. "When you try to chip away at public access, we'll almost always be against it."

William Stokes, the mayor of Augusta and an assistant Maine attorney general who heads the office's Criminal Division, said that as mayor, he didn't have strong feelings on Wilson's bill.

But Stokes, a member of Mayors Against Illegal Guns, a gun-control coalition fronted by New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg and Boston Mayor Thomas Menino, said he understood why permit-holders might not want information about them publicized.

"By definition, they're complying with the law," Stokes said. "It's the ones who don't comply with the law that are the issue."

State House Bureau Writer Michael Shepherd can be reached at 370-7652 or at:


Twitter: @mikeshepherdme

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