BANGOR, Maine — The city’s Government Operations Committee on Wednesday night recommended that the City Council put its support behind a bill that would make information about concealed weapon permit holders confidential.
After several councilors, most vocally Pauline Civiello and David Nealley, raised concerns about the privacy and safety of concealed weapons permit holders, City Solicitor Norm Heitmann suggested they take a stance on LD 345, “An Act to Ensure the Confidentiality of Concealed Weapons Permit Holder Information.”
The bill, sponsored by Rep. Corey Wilson, R-Augusta, would make personal and identifying information of concealed weapons permit holders confidential. By law, that information has been public.
On Feb. 13, the Bangor Daily News sent out Freedom of Access Act requests to police agencies across the state asking them to provide public records of concealed weapons permits. The request specified that the BDN did not plan to publish the information, as one New York newspaper did late last year, but rather to use the data in larger projects on issues ranging from domestic violence and sexual assault to drug abuse.
A public outcry and criticism from politicians followed.
The BDN rescinded its request on Feb. 15. Later that day, Nealley and Civiello held a press conference on the steps of City Hall, where they thanked the newspaper for lifting its Freedom of Access request and stressed a desire to see the Legislature make concealed weapons holder information confidential.
Nealley said that if information about concealed weapon holders somehow became public, “I feel we’re putting that permit holder in jeopardy.”
Gov. Paul LePage signed an emergency bill on Tuesday that temporarily exempts information about concealed weapons permit holders from Maine’s Freedom of Access Act while lawmakers debate Wilson’s bill, which would make the information private permanently. LePage’s bill expires at the end of April, after the Legislature is expected to vote on the permanent piece of legislation.
No one on the Bangor committee, which included Councilors Susan Hawes, Patricia Blanchette, Civiello, Charlie Longo and Ben Sprague, who filled in for Councilor Joe Baldacci, objected to the drafting of a resolution for consideration by the council.
The Government Operations Committee also recommended approval of a parking ban on the westerly side — the one closest to Center Street — of French Street between the Cumberland and Garland street intersections. City staff agreed that limiting parking to one side of the street would allow more room for passenger vehicles, buses and emergency vehicles.