Inside Augusta

Gun confiscation orders will make Maine less safe

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Ever since Cain slew Abel with a rock, human society has struggled with an age-old question: how do we prevent that rare, but devastating, scenario when someone chooses to wreak havoc on others?

In America, we see it often as “gun violence.” In Israel and the Middle East, people fear suicide bombers. Across Europe, vehicle ramming attacks are on the rise. And as the homicide rate climbs in London, the new slogan is, “Save a life, surrender your knife.”

I wish there was a single government bill we could pass to permanently end man’s inhumanity towards man. But that is magical thinking; and magical thinking won’t help us with real problems. We have to look for answers grounded in reality.

Thankfully, the reality for Maine is good. Ranked the safest state in America, Maine has the lowest violent crime rate nationwide.

And, confounding gun grabbers everywhere, Maine also has strong Second Amendment protections — including Constitutional Carry, a law I authored in 2015 that allows law-abiding citizens to carry a concealed handgun without a permit.

Since passage of Constitutional Carry three years ago, Maine has climbed the safety rankings. And Maine isn’t alone. Four of the five safest states in America — Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont and Idaho — all have Constitutional Carry laws.

This makes sense. The individual right to keep and bear arms is a deterrent against violent crime. Those looking to prey on others aren’t seeking armed citizens, but unarmed victims. Unfortunately, this reality hasn’t slowed the repeated calls to erode — and even fully repeal — our Second Amendment “to make us safe.”

-Illustration by Sam G. Pilgrims

Benjamin Franklin warned us that “those who give up a little essential liberty to gain a little temporary security” will lose both and deserve neither. In the name of safety, should we ever surrender our right to keep and bear arms, we will find Franklin’s warning to be true.

This is why we must defeat new legislation in Augusta that would allow courts to issue so-called “community protection orders.” These are essentially gun confiscation orders, stripping away the Second Amendment rights of Maine people, banning them from possessing firearms and authorizing seizure of firearms they already possess.

All it would take is a simple accusation from a family member, a roommate, or even a current or former romantic partner. On the basis of any number of emotionally-charged personal disputes, where no crime is committed and no probable cause exists that a crime might be committed, you could lose your right to self-defense.

Even worse, a gun confiscation order may be issued “ex-parte,” which means without any notice. No due process. No opportunity to defend yourself in a court of law.

With gun confiscation orders, you are only entitled to learn your rights have been stripped away when the SWAT team comes to your door to “collect” your guns. Only after seizure of your firearms can you challenge the order and beg for your rights and your firearms back.

Our American legal system is built on the premise of “innocent until proven guilty,” but this legislation would make Maine people “guilty until proven innocent.”

Gun confiscation orders violate the Maine Constitution. Not only does Article I, Section 16 read, “Every citizen has a right to keep and bear arms and this right shall never be questioned,” but Article I, Section 6-A reads, “No person shall be deprived of life, liberty or property without due process of the law…”

Gun confiscation orders would take away our liberty and our property without due process, all while doing little to make us safe. The fuzzy logic of the proposal falls victim to the fallacy of viewing “gun violence” as somehow worse and different than all other acts of violence. But as we see around the world — whether its guns or knives or cars or bombs or any other tool the imagination can conceive — when an individual is motivated to harm others, there are many methods available.

Eroding our constitutional right to self-defense will not increase safety. If anything, the example of Maine — the safest state in America — demonstrates that our individual right to keep and bear arms is not the problem, but the solution, to violent crime in America.

About Eric Brakey

Senator Eric Brakey is serving his second term in the Maine State Senate where he represents the people of Auburn, New Gloucester, Poland, Minot, and Mechanic Falls. He is a 2018 candidate for U.S. Senate, running to replace Angus King.

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