FORT FAIRFIELD, Maine — Within the borders of Fort Fairfield’s 78 square miles, gun owners follow only one gun law: the Second Amendment, Town Councilor Bob Kilcollins said Monday.
After concerns about proposed gun law changes and restrictions, Kilcollins drafted a resolution, declaring the town a Second Amendment sanctuary. And in a unanimous decision, the Town Council voted on Jan. 20 in favor of the move, making it among the first in Maine.
“Right now, as we speak, Fort Fairfield is a Second Amendment sanctuary,” said Kilcollins, who also owns Bob’s Sport Shop in town. “When you look at the future, I wrote up the resolution, protecting what we already have. It’s preserving our Second Amendment rights.”
The Second Amendment, ratified in 1791, protects a person’s right to keep and bear arms.
While not overly concerned about Maine’s existing gun laws, Kilcollins points to a federal bill, HR127, Sabika Sheikh Firearm Licensing and Registration Act, introduced in January by Democratic U.S. Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee of Texas.
“Just read it,” he said, as others in his Route 165 shop expressed fears that new gun laws will take away the rights of legal gun owners.
“The bad guys will always be able to get guns,” Kilcollins said. “The resolution protects us from bogus gun laws … these bills affect legal gun owners and there is a fear today that the new administration now in office will play games with our constitutional rights and that is not fair.”
Jackson Lee’s new bill, if passed, would prohibit some ammunition and establish a firearm registration system, a database of gun owners, as well as strict licensing requirements.
“Just think what would happen if a new bill comes in and suspends certain sales,” Kilcollins said.
The only other Second Amendment sanctuary town in Maine to date is Paris in Oxford County.
Modeled after immigration sanctuary cities, Second Amendment sanctuaries are popping up around the nation with more than 1,200 jurisdictions in 37 states, according to US LawShield, a self-defense member organization.
In states like North Carolina, nearly two-thirds of the jurisdictions are Second Amendment sanctuaries.
Still Geoff Bickford, executive director of the Maine Gun Safety Coalition, said he’s not sure what they are seeking sanctuary from because Maine already has very few gun laws.
“Ultimately, I don’t see it other than an expression of sentiment,” Bickford said Tuesday. “It has no legal effect. You don’t get to pick which laws to enforce. It is just a statement of petulant rage. Any municipality can express how they feel, but that’s not how the rule of law works.”
Bickford said that if someone is breaking state or federal gun laws, police will enforce the law.
Conversely, Kilcollins said that because law enforcement officials take an oath to uphold the constitution, they will support the safe haven.
“They will stand with us,” he said.
Since Fort Fairfield passed its resolution, several surrounding towns including Limestone and Caribou have asked Kilcollins for a copy of the resolution.
“We want to educate people and help other towns,” Kilcollins said. “We are making history here.”