Paris selectmen made a strong statement about guns on Tuesday night when they declared the town a “Second Amendment sanctuary.”
The select board adopted the resolution in a unanimous vote. They say what started as a simple proposal by one resident is now a message that the town will uphold the Second Amendment.
“A lot of us believe it’s a right that we have and a right we’d like to keep,” Chairman Rusty Brackett said.
He said the move is mostly symbolic.
“I don’t even want to say, ‘If push comes to shove,’ but ideally, if push comes to shove, do we have the right to say, ‘No, not in Paris?” Brackett said. “We’re a constitutional town.”
He said it’s in response to what they view as anti-gun legislation at the State House and feel could eventually lead to guns being taken away.
“Everybody says, ‘Oh, that’s not what we’re doing. That’s not where we’re going,’ and that’s where it always starts,” Brackett said.
“That’s strong rhetoric,” said Bill Harwood, president of the Maine Gun Safety Coalition. “I don’t think any proposal in Augusta that I’ve seen is going to take away guns from law-abiding citizens. That’s just simply not going to happen.”
Harwood believes the most controversial proposal is the “red flag” bill, which would allow a court to temporarily take someone’s firearms if they’re deemed a danger to themselves or others because of a mental health crisis.
“We know there are moments where people simply lose their control, and if there is ready and easy access to a firearm, there are devastating consequences,” he said.
He called the resolution in Paris overly dramatic and extreme.
“To simply wall yourself off and say, ‘Those laws aren’t going to be enforced,’ or ‘We aren’t going to abide by them,’ doesn’t make much sense,” Harwood said.
Paris selectmen also voted to create a committee that will be responsible for drafting an ordinance with a similar mission. That will likely go to voters in November.
Related: LePage speaks at gun rights rally in Augusta