Contradictions in debate over carrying guns

It soon will be illegal in South Portland to carry a pellet gun, slingshot or bow and arrow in public.

It will, however, be perfectly legal to carry a handgun in a holster or rifle slung over your shoulder.

Does this make any sense?

The South Portland City Council voted 6-1 last week to ban those far less lethal weapons at the urging of police Chief Edward Googins, who said the move was necessary to protect the community from "those who are acting unreasonably."

Googins, according to the Southern Forecaster newspaper, says the department has received calls about men in masks with guns, likely involved in war games with nonlethal airsoft guns. These are replica weapons that fire plastic pellets.

Which begs the question: How can a person carrying an airsoft gun in a public place be acting unreasonably when a person carrying a Colt .45 is not?

The new ordinance also comes on the heels of several recent open-carry events in Portland. These involved people with guns, but without the masks, simply making the point that they can carry their guns just about anywhere they like.

As we have pointed out in the past, just because you can do something doesn't always mean you should.

It is, indeed, legal for people in Maine to openly carry a gun. And nobody thinks twice about this when they see two hunters walking down a rural road with shotguns over their shoulders.

However, the same two men might cause a considerable panic if they strolled into the food court at the Maine Mall.

The chief had actually asked for a complete ban on pellet guns, slingshots, even on private property. The council thought otherwise, still allowing people to use pellet guns there.

The lone opponent to the new ordinance was Councilor Tom Blake, who argued that the city is over-regulating its residents. Blake did not believe the volume of police calls justified the ordinance.

"We're creating a regulation for a problem that doesn't exist," he said.

People with pellet guns, slingshots and bows and arrows do not belong in public areas or even in heavily used urban parks.

If they do not, then why do we think people bearing rifles and handguns do?

The Portland City Council's Public Safety Committee, meanwhile, voted Tuesday to recommend that the council seek legislation barring guns from public buildings.

Councilor Dan Skolnik, who proposed the measure, would like to ban guns from places like City Hall, Merrill Auditorium and the Cumberland County Civic Center.

Guns are already prohibited in schools and in the State House in Augusta.

"Guns in City Hall detract from an atmosphere of democracy," the Portland Press Herald quoted Cathie Whittenburg of Portland as telling the committee. "Guns introduce an element of intimidation that is contrary to the open exchange of debate on controversial topics."

Public meetings do get heated at times. Members of the public have even been removed from meetings for threatening behavior.

Who would feel comfortable sitting on a city council while being screamed at by a man bearing a gun?

Perhaps it is time for the Legislature to rule on whether guns should be allowed in government buildings.

After all, if legislators feel the need to ban guns in their workplace, why should guns be allowed in Portland City Hall?

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PAUL ST JEAN's picture

"It is a person's God given

"It is a person's God given right to defend themselves".......
That's true, taxpayer, but that right of self-defense is being eroded by the courts on a daily basis. We read so often about the person who acted in self defense is viewed by the aggressor or perpretator by law enforcement. Remember Bernard Getz, the New Yorker who was held up in a subway by 3 or 4 thugs? He shot a couple of them, one ended up wheelchair bound for life. Mr. Getz has done more jail time than any of the thugs who tried to hold him up. That is only one of thousands of incidents.

RONALD RIML's picture

Goetz wasn't "Held up."

None of the men threatened him with any type of weapon, though it was obvious they were going to try to shake him down through fear and intimidation. He then served 2/3 of a one year sentence for possessing an illegal weapon. That's it.

Here's what Bernie says on his website -->

"For a recent picture of me and my pet squirrel, Haystacks Calhoun, see:


To clear up any confusion about the Christmas 1984 New York subway shooting, here's what actually happened after I was surrounded by a group of 4 thugs and one of them calmly told me "Give me five dollars.":

I decided to shoot as many as I could as quickly as I could. I did a fast draw, and shot with one hand (my right), pulling the trigger prior to the gun being aligned on the targets. All actual shots plus my draw time occurred easily within 1.6 seconds, and possibly within 1.1 seconds. This is not as difficult to do as some might think, and occasionally I give a description of the technique along with a re-enactment.

The first shot hit Canty in the center of the chest. After the first shot my vision changed and I lost my sense of hearing. The second shot hit lightning fast Barry Allen in the upper rear shoulder as he was ducking (later the bullet was removed from his arm). The third shot hit the subway wall just in front of Cabey; the fourth shot hit Cabey in the left side (severing his spinal cord and rendering him paraplegic). The fifth shot hit Ramseur's arm on the way into his left side. I immediately looked at the first two to make sure they were "taken care of", and then attempted to shoot Cabey again in the stomach, but the gun was empty. I thought Cabey was shot twice after reading a media account no shots missed; I had lost count of the shots and while under adrenaline I didn't even hear the shots or feel the kick of the gun. "You don't look too bad, here's another" is a phrase I came up with later when trying to explain the shooting while I was under the impression that Cabey was shot twice. The legal nit-pickers can note that Cabey, who was briefly standing prior to the shooting, was sitting on the subway bench during all attempted shots. The others were standing.

Shortly after the shooting my vision and hearing returned to normal and I saw two women, who I thought also might have been shot. I talked to them and then sat down. The subway conductor entered the car, talked to me and the two women, and left the car. The train slowed down and stopped. I decided to make a break for it, climbed down to the tracks, ran to the Chambers Street Station, and took a cab home.

For accurate 1984 subway incident information, google: WIKIPEDIA GOETZ or read: "Subway Gunman" by Mark Lesly, Ch. 4 - 16. Almost all other sources are garbage."

Goetz was found 'Not Guilty' of all counts by a jury with the exception of possessing an illegal firearm. He served 2/3 on a one year sentence.

PAUL ST JEAN's picture

One report stated one of them

One report stated one of them poked something at him, which turned out to be a screwdriver. That is not mentioned in your presentation, so I must assume it didn't happen. Thanks for the enlightenment.

PAUL ST JEAN's picture

Carry anything you want.

Carry anything you want. Don't show it unless you intend to use it, and keep your mouth shut about the fact that you're carrying it. No one knows but you and anyone who wants to hurt you. No big deal.

PAUL MATTSON's picture


Your editorial board’s “Contradictions in debate over carrying guns,” missed the mark as it relates to the Maine Constitution, law and fundamental common sense.

Speaking to the issue of firearms, open carry of firearms is allowed by Maine law and there has never been an incident in the State of Maine where this lawful activity violated the rights or injured unarmed citizens. Never.

Individual law abiding citizens exercise open carry or concealed carry at the Maine Mall Food Court, because it is perfectly legal. Maine has a long list of prohibited persons: ( ) that may not own or possess a firearm. Should one of these individuals violate Maine law by simple possession he or she should be arrested and prosecuted to the full extent of the law.

Maine statutes specifically prescribe remedies for the armed citizen to protect themselves and innocent others in active shooter situations:
§101. General rules for defenses and affirmative defenses; justification Conduct that is justifiable under this chapter constitutes a defense to any crime; except that, if a person is justified in using force against another, but the person recklessly injures or creates a risk of injury to 3rd persons, the justification afforded by this chapter is unavailable in a prosecution for such recklessness.

§108. Physical force in defense of a person: 2. A person is justified in using deadly force upon another person: A. When the person reasonably believes it necessary and reasonably believes such other person is: (1) About to use unlawful, deadly force against the person or a 3rd person; or (2) Committing or about to commit a kidnapping, robbery or a violation of section 253, subsection 1, paragraph A, against the person or a 3rd person.

Creating gun free zones only affords the criminal element of our society the opportunity to harm innocent men, women and children of all walks of life. Maine’s low crime rate is attributed to the population’s high degree of gun possession and ownership. Portland’s Chief Craig has publicly stated he is amazed, Maine liberally gives out Concealed Firearms Permits and has a very low crime rate and where he came from, Los Angeles seldom authorized a Concealed Firearm Permit the crime rate was very high.

Councilman Skolnik’s proposal is in direct conflict with his oath of office to uphold the Maine Constitution and the laws of the State of Maine. A fifth grader could interpret Article I of the Maine Constitution~ Section 16. To keep and bear arms. Every citizen has a right to keep and bear arms and this right shall never be questioned.

Quite frankly, I feel safer knowing more law abiding citizens around me have a firearm on them should an active shooter situation arise. Law enforcement can’t be everywhere so I make it my personal responsibility to protect myself and family. After all, it is my unalienable Right under the U.S. Constitution.

Last but not least, Maine legislators did not ban guns in their workplace. It is a “RULE” created by the Bureau of Capitol Security.

 's picture

The ignorance is amazing!

Police already have tools and LAWS on the books that enable them to enforce any kind of wreckless behavior involving these weapons. This city ordinance (which is NOT the same as a criminal law) is just stupid!

Not every little or even major infraction that police have to deal with requires laws to be changed, ordinances made, rights of honest and responsable citzens to be taking away... some of it might just be hey... that's life and lets deal with it. We might as well outlaw cars so we wont have any speeding problems anymore!!!

I am suprised that the chief felt it necessary to make such a request. Once again government is taking away your rights based on an illusion that they are making us safer?? Stop fixing things that are NOT BROKEN.

"Who would feel comfortable sitting on a city council while being screamed at by a man bearing a gun?"

well, who would feel comnfortable living in a society that only wants goverment to be armed? We know exactly where this is going......

 's picture

don't need a license for a

don't need a license for a pellet gun or sling-shot, right? i don't care what the law is when it comes down to protecting myself regarding what is in my purse or not-regarding sling-shot, pepper spray, taser, needles, dental floss, lipstick lol... however for a gun i would abide by.


We should be very careful

We should be very careful when it comes to regulating any type of weapon. The right to carry arms is a right that was won at a high price. Look at what happens to the populace in countries that ban guns. These laws only affect the law abiding citizens. Criminals do not care about ANY law.

RONALD RIML's picture

"Criminals do not care about ANY law."


If they didn't, there would be a lot more mayhem and murder as they shot everyone and everybody that ever tried to apprehend them.

I hope you know more about guns than criminals, Skippy - otherwise you're liable to blow your freakin' hand or head off some time.

PAUL MATTSON's picture

There is a little thing

There is a little thing called the Maine Constitution that should prevail: Article I of the Maine Constitution~ Section 16. To keep and bear arms. Every citizen has a right to keep and bear arms and this right shall never be questioned. My reply to the City of Portland is here:

RONALD RIML's picture

Most Military will vote Republican

It's so much easier than thinking when in that tribal mode.

And the Republican Party will act against the best interests of the working class families most military come from.

PAUL ST JEAN's picture

Bush's tax cuts "for the

Bush's tax cuts "for the rich" reduced my tax burden from 33% to 28%, and, as you might have guessed, being a pirate, I am not wealthy. That line about Bush's tax cuts being only for the rich is false. It's all part of the democRATS effort to keep feeding the class warfare beast.

RONALD RIML's picture

P.O.W. McCain scuttled by Chickenhawk Bushies...

So what's your Point????

(Other than you really have none....)

PAUL ST JEAN's picture

"lol! I laugh at the idea

"lol! I laugh at the idea because none of my republikkkan friends have ever served."
Not having served in the military makes a person a coward? ROFLMAO!!!. Joe Biden and Bill Clinton never served. What does that make them? War heroes, cuz they're dems?. I won't say you're an idiot, because I don't know you, but your post certainly is idiotic.
Granted, you may "never will be a republikkkan". But more importantly, will you ever be a man?

 's picture

The vast majority of our

The vast majority of our military votes Republican dumb ass. I invite you to walk onto any Marine base of your choice and start shouting coward.

PAUL ST JEAN's picture

Well stated, Mac.

Well stated, Mac.


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