BANGOR, Maine (NEWS CENTER) --- The fiery debate continues in Maine over whether the public has the right to know whose licensed to carry a concealed firearm.
Lawmakers in Augusta have been considering a bill that if passed, would permanently restrict public access to information on concealed weapons permit holders in Maine. The legislature started work on the bill in response to a strong backlash from gun owners in February. That's when the Bangor Daily News tried to get information on concealed weapons permit holders through a freedom of access request with police agencies around the state. The paper later withdrew the request after facing much public outcry.
The bill has now made it past one committee in Augusta. Gun owners say the want it passed to better protect their privacy. Others disagree saying the public should have the right to know whose licensed to carry a hidden gun.
"It's dangerous to other people," said Austen Jones of Bangor, "you shouldn't have an exact person..like a registry of who does and who doesn't but the information that there are concealed weapons should be available."
"They can feel any way they want. I think my right to privacy and anyone's right to privacy should outweigh their right to know," said Rick Lozier, who is the manager of Van Raymond's Outfitters in Brewer, "I mean, 'why is it such a big issue?'"
A recent poll from Pan Atlantic SMS Group shows a narrow gap between Mainers on the issue. 48.6 percent of those surveyed say they support keeping concealed weapons permit information open to the public. Another 46.4 percent said they do not.