AUGUSTA, Maine (NEWS CENTER) - Does the public have the right to know if you have a concealed handgun permit? Until last month Maine law said yes.
But the Legislature is now being asked to permanently block access to the names of concealed permit holders.
Permit holders and gun owners in Maine were outraged last month when a newspaper filed Freedom of Information requests to get the names of all Maine permit holders. That led the Governor and Legislature to pass an emergency bill to block release of the names for two months. That provided the Legislature "breathing room" to hold a full public hearing on a permanent ban, which happened Tuesday.
Freshman Rep Corey Wilson (R-Augusta) is sponsoring the concealed weapons permit bill, at the request of the Sportsmen's Alliance of Maine. Supporters say permit holders in Maine have worried their private information could be made public, and that they could be threatened or harassed if the general public knows they have a concealed carry permit. They say it's a matter of both privacy and personal protection. Opponents of the proposed law, however, say names of perm it holders have been public in Maine for more than thirty years with no problem. And Rep. Jeff McGowan (D)York) urged the committee members to also consider the concerns and fears of Mainers who don't own guns, who he said may feel threatened by a neighbor and unable to know if that person has a concealed weapon.
Members of the Judiciary Committee will now begin work on the bill. If they do approve it, there are likely to be some changes. Rep. Wilson says he now wants to allow police officers to know who has a concealed weapons permit. And Wilson said he would also like to allow release of the total number of permits issued, but no detail on who has them.