The chairperson of the Bridgton Board of Selectmen favored a resolution to make the town a Second Amendment Sanctuary, but was absent when his vote could have broken a tie and ensured the measure’s approval.

Selectman Fred Packard, along with fellow board member Glenn “Bear” Zaidman, who proposed the resolution, voted March 9 in favor of the measure to oppose “unconstitutional restrictions on the right to keep and bear arms for its citizens.” Selectmen Carmen Lone and Paul Tworog voted against it. Because of the tie, the measure failed.

Chairperson Liston “Lee” Eastman, who would have decided the tie-breaker, was absent. When reached for comment this week, Eastman said he would have voted in favor of the resolution.

Zaidman said in a phone interview Tuesday that “I feel that our Second Amendment by the United States Constitution and Article 16 of the Maine Constitution is under attack by some of the lawmakers.

“Some of the bills that they’re introducing I think are unconstitutional,” Zaidman said, who ended the call before providing clarification.

In 2019, Paris became the first Maine town to declare itself a Second Amendment Sanctuary. In February, Fort Fairfield adopted a similar resolution and the town of Van Buren passed one last week.

These sort of “sanctuary” resolutions have a dubious legal impact, if any, said Geoff Bickford, director of the Maine Gun Safety Coalition.

“They have no power, they have no effect on the law,” Bickford said Monday. “They’re just pieces of paper.”

Lone said the concerns raised are a “legislative issue and not an administrative issue,” the latter of which a select board oversees.

“I do not believe it is in our purview to move this forward and approve it,” Lone said.

Tworog agreed, adding, “We already have laws in place to protect the Constitution. All it will do is distract us from cooperation and solving local issues.”

A number of residents wrote to the board on both sides of the issue.

“Firearms violence has reached the point that the CDC (Centers for Disease Control) is considering declaring it a public health epidemic,” Steve and Sandra Collins wrote. “The last thing we as a community need to do is advertise ‘Bring your weapons to Bridgton.’”

Nicole Hodsdon wrote, “How unfortunate we are forced to live among a high percentage of Americans who promote conspiracy theories and lies,” calling threats to gun rights “nonsense.”

Conversely, Kenneth King urged the board to “take whatever action you can to fight against the ever-increasing likelihood that the federal government” will violate the Second Amendment.

Maine has some of the most lenient gun control laws in the country, according to the Giffords Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence. There are no laws about licenses, registration, background checks or waiting periods.

Even when an individual is prohibited from possessing a firearm – such as someone convicted of domestic abuse – there is no law that gives law enforcement the authority to seize firearms or force an individual to relinquish them.

From 2015 to 2019, 7% of all gun deaths in Maine were by homicide and 59% of all homicides involved a gun, as opposed to 38% and 75% nationwide, respectively, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Of all gun deaths in Maine during that period, 90% involved suicide, compared to 60% nationwide.

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