A bill in the Maine’s Senate could grant municipalities and counties the power to look past state preemptions and establish their own gun-free zones in publicly controlled areas.
The measure, proposed by a small-town Republican senator, would allow a state that recently became the latest in the nation to adopt unlicensed or constitutional concealed carry, to further rein in just where those guns are granted.
“The bill would give municipalities the right to ban guns in municipal buildings just like the ban on guns at the State House that protects legislators,” said state Sen. Linda Baker, R-Topsham, in a post on her social media account defending the legislation. “This is a local control issue. At the request of local officials, I agreed to bring this bill forward.”
Baker explained to the Bangor Daily News that officials in numerous small towns in her district came to her with concerns about armed constituents in town meetings, but lacked the standing to erect a gun-free zone by law.
“One was actually openly fearful, one was very concerned about individuals who had expressed extreme anger at town officials and who were known to carry firearms would be attending specific meetings,” Baker said.
In her first term representing her district, she comes to the Maine Senate with a background in municipal politics, having previously served as a selectwoman on the Topsham Town Council.
Baker’s bill, to be taken up in the upcoming session, is already receiving some push back from other members of her own party who feel a move to allow local gun control laws would end up stripping away hard-fought gun rights victories.
“I do think it is very important that we maintain the tradition we have on Second Amendment issues being determined on the state level and not letting that devolve so we have a mishmash of policies,” said state Sen. Eric Brakey, R-Auburn.
Brakey led the charge to pass constitutional carry in Maine earlier this year despite strong opposition from gun safety groups, the Maine Chiefs of Police and Maine Sheriffs associations and Democrats in the state legislature.
In addition to constitutional carry, the state has long allowed open carry and has granted nearly 50,000 concealed carry permits.