FORT FAIRFIELD Maine — Fort Fairfield’s Second Amendment sanctuary designation does not mean the town will interfere with law enforcement, according to Town Manager Andrea Powers.
The Fort Fairfield town council unanimously passed a resolution in late January declaring the town a Second Amendment Sanctuary for gun owners.
Following the Jan. 20 decision, town councilor Bob Kilcollins, who drafted the resolution, said the town would only follow the Second Amendment, rejecting all unconstitutional state and federal gun laws. Additionally, last week, Kilcollins said police would stand with local gun owners and the town’s decision to reject state and federal gun laws because “law enforcement takes an oath to uphold and defend the constitution.”
But since that time, Powers clarified the town’s interpretation of its new status.
“The council’s only intention was to state that it believes in the Constitution of the United States of America and the Constitution of the State of Maine and that they will follow those laws,” Powers said on Monday. “Any citizen found to be in default of or breaking these laws will be summonsed [issued a summons] as such. “
Powers added that the town council is concerned about any unconstitutional laws.
And while the U.S. Supreme Court has not ruled on what gun laws are or are not constitutional, Kilcollins pointed to extreme measure laws, gun registration and licensing laws and any laws that threaten to restrict or prohibit gun and ammunition ownership.
Still, Kilcollins said no Maine laws are at issue, but rather pending federal legislation.
“We are afraid they will take away our guns,” he said, sharing the history of the Second Amendment. “It was passed out of bloodshed and we want to protect it. When you look at the future, I wrote up the resolution because we are protecting what we already have.”
Constitutional attorney John Whitehead, founder and head of the Rutherford Institute, a non-partisan civil and human rights organization, said what they are doing sends a message.
“I encourage cities to do this,” he said. “Local governments are saying, we are going to govern ourselves.”
Maine gun laws are among the least restrictive, according to the head of the Maine Gun Safety Coalition who questioned the need for a sanctuary designation.
“Maine virtually has no limits,” Geoff Bickford said. “I’m not quite sure what the town is seeking sanctuary from and I don’t see it other than a public relations move.”
Nationally, hundreds of towns are declaring these gun safe havens, but constitutional scholar Shawn Fields said the definition of the Second Amendment is cloudy and open for interpretation because the Supreme Court has only ever decided on two cases.
“Do Red Flag laws violate the constitution? We don’t know,” said Fields, an assistant professor of law at the Norman Adrian Wiggins School of Law at Campbell University in North Carolina. “The Supreme Court has not decided.”