AUGUSTA — A bill to keep under wraps the names and other identifying information about people with concealed-handgun permits will be signed into law, Gov. Paul LePage said Friday.
The bill was approved Thursday on lopsided votes in the state House and Senate. LePage himself has such a permit.
Rep. Corey Wilson, R-Augusta, submitted the legislation after a suburban New York City newspaper's publication in December, following the Newtown, Conn., school massacre, of an interactive map with the names and addresses of thousands of permit holders. The Journal News piece pulled the information from its website after receiving complaints and threats.
That prompted the Sportsman's Alliance of Maine to recommend legislation to ensure the confidentiality of names, addresses and other personal information about concealed-weapons permit holders.
The issue was pushed to the forefront in Maine in February after the Bangor Daily News made a state Freedom of Access Act request for information on concealed weapons permits issued by the state.
The News' action caused an uproar among Maine gun owners and legislators, who worried that such requests would violate the privacy of law-abiding gun owners. The newspaper said it never intended to publicize personally identifying information about the gun owners.
The bill sponsored by Republican Rep. Corey Wilson of Augusta was scaled back to allow aggregate information about permit holders to be released, but no personally identifying information. Wilson was relieved by word the governor would sign the measure.
"It was a long and sometimes contentious road, but ultimately, I think we crafted a very reasonable and effective bill that will provide concealed handgun permit holders with the privacy and safety that they deserve," Wilson said in a statement.
The bill was enacted days before the end of a legislatively endorsed moratorium on the release of concealed handgun information.
Opponents of the bill said that there was no evidence anyone had been hurt by Maine's open concealed weapons records, and that closing them would weaken Maine Freedom of Access law.