AUGUSTA – State lawmakers today will take up an emergency measure to temporarily keep confidential the names of Mainers with concealed carry permits. The measure, which is being introduced by the governor and sponsored by Senate Assistant Majority Leader Troy Jackson, D-Allagash and House Assistant Majority Leader Jeff McCabe, D-Skowhegan, comes after a Maine media outlet issued a request for the list last week.
The emergency measure sunsets on April 30th, allowing lawmakers to consider this matter and others pertaining to privacy and firearms.
“Democrats and Republicans are working together to resolve this highly sensitive issue,” said Senator Jackson. “This is a temporary measure in order to avoid a knee-jerk reaction to a politicized issue. A vote in support of this legislation will allow for a deliberative and thorough discussion of whether this list should be public.”
While the Maine media outlet maintained it did not plan to publish wholesale identifying information about permit holders and later rescinded its Freedom of Access Act requests, an unknown entity whose plans were not disclosed, filed its own request for the document, underscoring the need for the dialogue about whether the information should be shielded.
Late last year, a newspaper in New York published the names of concealed carry permit holders, causing a public uproar and backlash aimed at those on the list and the publishers.
“We don’t have a ‘what-if’ situation – we know what happens if a list like this is misused,” said Rep. McCabe in reference to the situation in New York. “We need to strike the right balance between the public’s right to know and sensitive, identifying information. Remember these are law abiding citizens – some who have been victims of domestic violence or are former or current law enforcement officials.”
One measure to permanently exempt the list from Right to Know laws and the Freedom of Access Act will be considered by the State Legislature’s Judiciary Committee later this month. The measure, LD 345, An Act To Ensure the Confidentiality of Concealed Weapons Permit Holder Information, is sponsored by Rep. Corey Wilson, R-Augusta. House Republicans held a press conference last Thursday calling for this bill to be fast-tracked to the floor without a public hearing.
“Fast tracking that legislation without a deliberative review wouldn’t solve the problem. We want to keep the politics out of the firearm discussions,” said McCabe. “We have said since Newtown that lawmakers need to proceed with thoughtfulness by carefully considering all sides of this issue.
Jackson and McCabe said that’s why they worked with the governor and legislative Republicans on a temporary exemption.
The State Senate will vote on the bipartisan bill to sunset this temporary measure later this morning. The House will then take up the bill. The bill requires two-thirds support in both legislative bodies, pursuant to Joint Rule 308.
“It is our hope that this decision can allow lawmakers the room they need to be deliberative about this politically-charged issue,” said Jackson.
For Immediate Release
February 19, 2013
Contact: Ericka Dodge [Jackson], 232-5892 and Ann Kim [McCabe] 233-1838