Maine lawmakers are considering a bill to prohibit “unauthorized paramilitary training,” leading to concerns about 2nd Amendment rights, and difficulties for Maine firearm trainers.
“This bill is a slippery slope, a solution looking for a problem,” said Joshua Raines, vice president of Gun Owners of Maine (GOME).
The bill came as a response to a failed attempt by Neo-Nazi Chris Pohlhaus and former Democrat activist Fred Ramey to build a neo-Nazi compound in Springfield, Maine.
The bill, LD 2130, appears to target a problem that has already been resolved and has raised concerns about violating the rights of firearms instructors and gunsmiths.
LD 2130, makes it a class C. crime if anyone instructs a person in the use of a firearm or explosive, or in the construction of firearms or explosives, if the instructor knows or “reasonably should know” that training will be used in the furtherance of “civil disorder.”
Although the bill does define “civil disorder,” it does not explain what would be considered “furtherance of civil disorder.”
The bill also fails to specify how the state will determine whether an instructor “reasonably should know” if someone intends to use their instruction in service of civil disorder.
The bill also has a clause allowing the Attorney General to take civil action against anyone whom they suspect is violating the law, or anyone whom they suspect is about to violate the law.
The bill empowers the court to place a temporary “injunction” on someone to prevent the suspected crime or future crime.
Ralph Perkins, a firearm instructor and owner of 207 Firearms, expressed concern to the Maine Wire over how the bill could impact his business.
“Do you interrogate someone because they want to learn about construction or they go to a welding class? Like, you don’t know the intentions of use. You know, your job as an instructor is simply to educate those that are unfamiliar with that hardware,” said Perkins.
Perkins believes that the bill is far too vague in explaining what constitutes an offense, and has the potential to threaten his livelihood.
“Is this going to affect our way of life, our ability to feed our families, or just educate the public in general,” asked Perkins.
Another firearm instructor, Paul Mattson of CWP Training, was less concerned that the bill would directly harm his business, but did see the bill as a violation of Second Amendment rights.
“Para is just somebody exercising the Second Amendment right [under] Maine Constitution Article One section 16,” said Mattson.
GOME also responded to an email from The Maine Wire, expressing similar concerns as Perkins about the vagueness of the bill’s language.
“Who is to say what constitutes intent to cause civil disobedience,” said Joshua Raines. “If you ask 10 different people what ‘intent to cause civil disobedience’ is, you’ll get 11 different answers.”
In addition to their concerns about the bill’s vagueness, GOME highlighted the power it gives the Attorney General to bring suit against anyone even suspected of a future violation of the law.
“The main concern is the amount of unbridled power this hands to the Attorney General. That specific clause could very easily lead to an abuse of power, as well as being used in a political manner,” said Raines.
Despite the concerns of gun rights activists, the bill has managed to garner two Republican co-sponsors, Assistant House Minority Leader Amy Arata (R-New Gloucester) and Rep. Amanda Collamore (R-Pittsfield).