A state lawmaker from Guilford unveiled a proposal on Friday to protect the rights of Mainers to bear arms in self defense by allowing property owners to be liable for violence that occurs in so-called “gun free zones.”
“An Act Relating to Firearms Exclusions in Certain Locations would hold property owners liable if people are harmed at a location that doesn’t allow them to carry firearms for their own protection,” said Rep. James White (R-Guilford).
The potential liability would discourage property owners from forbidding people from carrying firearms, or other self-defense articles such as pepper spray, onto their premises.
“I have heard from young females, working as nurses or wait staff, who get put in a position of leaving their place of employment that forbids them from bringing self-defense articles such as a firearm or even pepper spray onto the premises,” said Rep. White.
In recent years, “gun free zones” have popped up all over the U.S., including in Maine. The creation of the zone amounts to little more than a sign hung near the entrance informing customers or visitors that guns are not allowed on the premises.
White believes that his bill is essential to help Mainers protect themselves in a time of increasing crime.
White, who is serving his first term in the Maine legislature, is a career gunsmith, and a strong advocate for 2nd Amendment Rights.
His proposal comes after U.S. Sen. Angus King, an independent who caucus exclusively with Democrats, announced earlier this week that he was introducing federal legislation aimed at drastically curtailing gun-rights on a national level, including a firearm buyback program similar to that of Australia.
Following the October 25th mass shooting in Lewiston, firearm rights and gun-control have become a highly contentious political issue in a state where nearly 50 percent of households own at least one firearm.
Maine GOP Chairman Joel Stetkis spoke out against Sen. King’s proposal, which would limit magazine capacities to just 10 rounds.
“This bill will not pass for two reasons: Because Angus King is a terrible legislator with no accomplishments, and because attacking the rights of Mainers who want to defend themselves has always been a bad idea,” Stetkis said.
U.S Rep. Jared Golden (D-Maine), who previously went against his party by opposing a ban on assault weapons, has changed his position following the Lewiston shooting, and now supports a ban.
Rep. Golden has been heavily criticized for this by the Republicans seeking to unseat him in the house.
State Rep. Austin Theriault (R-Fort Kent) suggested that Golden’s change of position was meant to take advantage of the Lewiston tragedy for political gain.
Rep. Theriault accused Golden of trying to “score political points by attacking the 2nd Amendment”
Golden’s other competitor, State Rep. Mike Soboleski (R-Phillips) also criticized him.
“Shame on Congressman Golden for using this tragedy to advance a liberal political agenda,” Rep. Soboleski said. “The actions of one deranged individual does not define who we are as Mainers.”