Police chiefs taking aim at Maine's open-carry gun law
Jan 04, 2013 (Portland Press Herald - McClatchy-Tribune Information Services via COMTEX) --
A group of Maine police chiefs plans to ask the Legislature to tighten the law allowing people to openly carry guns in Maine.
The chiefs scheduled a meeting for later this month on the issue after a man openly carried an assault rifle over his shoulder through Portland's Bayside and East End neighborhoods on Christmas Eve. The sight of the man and his gun just days after a similar gun was used to kill 20 students in Newtown, Conn., prompted dozens of calls to Portland's police department from concerned residents.
Police responded to the calls and talked to the man, who eventually went home without incident. But, officers did not have the legal authority to determine whether or not the gun was loaded, or even whether the man carrying it was legally allowed to have it, said Police Chief Michael Sauschuck.
"We can ask anything, but it's purely voluntary. The individual doesn't have to say anything to us. They could literally just keep walking," Sauschuck said.
Sauschuck said residents in the area have expressed disbelief that the police could not ask questions or assess whether the person posed a threat. The incident led chiefs around the state to arrange a meeting specifically to talk about the open carry law. It is too soon to know what changes the chiefs may ask for, according to Sauschuck.
The Newtown shootings have begun lots of conversations about gun control, and Maine's police chiefs may weigh in on other proposals, too.
But, Sauschuck said, "the one that screams in my mind for immediate attention is the open carry issue, specifically with that incident in mind."
This story will be updated.
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