Maine Governor Paul LePage drew attention this week after making a statement that some interpreted as calling for gun owners to take the law into their own hands. Following a meeting in Lewiston on Wednesday, LePage reiterated his push for harsher penalties against drug dealers, and indicated that he wants to see the death penalty for those convicted of selling drugs in his state. It was when LePage mentioned Maine’s new permitless carry law that he started to court controversy.
“Everybody in Maine, we have constitutional carry. Load up and get rid of the drug dealers,” he told the press. “‘Cause folks, they’re killing our kids.“
Immediately afterwards a reporter asked the Governor if he was suggesting some kind of vigilante justice, to which he said no. According to WCSH, LePage’s communications director said later that the governor was exaggerating to get his point across. The day before, LePage had made a joke about bringing back guillotines to execute drug dealers.
You can listen to the governor speak below:
Although the offhand comment may not have been serious, the governor’s statement did reignite an old debate: do more gun owners equal safer neighborhoods and lower crime? Maine’s permitless carry measure—also known as constitutional carry—was signed into law by LePage last July. At the time, supporters of the law said that it was a bulwark against illegally armed criminals, especially those involved in out-of-state drug rings.
“It is commonly said that, ‘When seconds count, the police are only minutes away.’ This is especially true in the more rural areas of Maine, where emergency response time can take even longer. That is why it is crucial that we uphold our 2nd Amendment right for private citizens to keep and bear arms, so that Maine people can defend themselves,” Senator Eric Brakey (R-Androscoggin), who introduced the permitless carry bill, wrote on his website.
Maine became the sixth state in the country to adopt constitutional carry after the law went into effect last October. It was widely supported by many gun owners and pro-Second Amendment organizations, such as the NRA. In his meeting with the press on Wednesday, Governor LePage indicated that legal gun owners may be another factor in intimidating criminals involved in Maine’s growing heroin trade, along with stricter laws and penalties.
“I’d like to make it so tough that they don’t want to come to Maine,” LePage said.
What do you think?