Gun rights: Maine GOP blasts Mike Michaud's commitment

AUGUSTA — U.S. Rep. Mike Michaud’s involvement in a fundraiser next month with a prominent national gun control advocate is triggering questions from Republicans about where the Democratic gubernatorial candidate, who in the past has received support from the Sportsman’s Alliance of Maine and the National Rifle Association, stands on gun rights.

The Michaud campaign insists that the congressman’s views on gun control haven’t changed, but Maine Republicans seized on the news that former U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, D-Arizona, is coming to Maine next month to stump for Michaud as an indication that his support for gun rights has wavered. The issue is significant because linking Michaud to gun control advocates could erode his support among hunters, sportsmen and other gun-rights adherents who have typically supported him in past elections.

His Republican opponent, incumbent Gov. Paul LePage, couldn’t be more opposed to gun control. LePage once famously tweeted a photograph of himself holding his concealed weapon permit, and in February 2013, he told a rally outside the State House that “while I’m your governor, they will not infringe on our rights. The Second Amendment and our state constitution is very clear, and free people — law-abiding citizens — should have the ability to carry guns. That’s what keeps us free and safe.”

According to Maine Republican Party spokesman David Sorensen and LePage campaign spokesman Alex Willette, LePage also supports constitutional carry — meaning he supports the right to carry a firearm without a concealed weapon permit, which is required in Maine and numerous other states.

Giffords, who during her time in Congress was a Michaud ally as part of the moderate Blue Dog Democrats caucus, was critically wounded in a 2011 assassination attempt outside a mall near Tucson, Arizona. She and her husband, Mark Kelly, founded a gun control group called Americans for Responsible Solutions.

Giffords and Kelly insist that they are supporters of the Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution — the right to bear arms — but want “common-sense protections from gun violence,” according to the group’s website.

David Trahan, executive director of the influential Sportsman’s Alliance of Maine, expressed skepticism.

“I’ve heard that line from every pro-gun control group out there; it’s pretty much always the same line,” said Trahan, a former Republican legislator. “My perception of the response [to learning that Giffords will appear at a fundraiser for Michaud] is that a lot of people were very surprised. There are a lot of people pushing gun control across the country, but [Giffords] has sort of been the face of it.”

The Sportsman’s Alliance of Maine has endorsed Michaud in past congressional campaigns, and Michaud has received high marks from the National Rifle Association, which endorsed him in 2012. Trahan said the Sportsman’s Alliance of Maine is awaiting responses from Michaud and several other candidates to a survey that will form part of the basis for the group’s endorsements.

Trahan said sometimes the Sportsman’s Alliance of Maine doesn’t publicly endorse anyone — as was the case in the 2010 gubernatorial election — if candidates’ views are too similar, but “we let our members know where people stand.”

“I served [in the Legislature] with Congressman Michaud, and I’ve always respected him, but if his positions have changed, we need to know it, and the public needs to know it,” said Trahan, who added that Michaud is a lifetime member of the Sportsman’s Alliance of Maine.

Michaud campaign spokeswoman Lizzy Reinholt said Giffords is coming to Maine for Michaud because of their long professional relationship and not necessarily because of his position on gun control. Reinholt said Michaud hasn’t swayed on gun control issues and his support of Second Amendment rights, though he does support some “protections.”

In 2013, for instance, she said Michaud favored the Manchin-Toomey proposal in Congress that would have required background checks for all commercial sales of guns. The proposal died in the U.S. Senate.

Reinholt said the notion that Giffords is a leading gun control supporter is a “misconception.”

“She, like Mike, understands that balance that needs to be struck,” said Reinholt. “She knows the type of leader that Mike is, and she’s seen how he works behind the scenes. That’s one of the reasons she’s coming to Maine. … We want common-sense protections.”

Asked if Michaud owns a gun, Reinholt said he used to when he owned a sporting camp but no longer does. He does not hold a concealed-carry permit.

Efforts by the BDN on Monday to reach Giffords or anyone else at Americans for Responsible Solutions were unsuccessful. A spokeswoman for the NRA also did not immediately respond to questions from the BDN, nor did independent Eliot Cutler’s campaign.

Sorensen on Monday repeated the GOP’s campaign theme that Michaud has changed his positions on issues such as abortion and same-sex marriage to make himself more appealing to southern Maine’s more liberal voters.

“In our view, it highlights Michaud’s pattern of flipping to the left on issue after issue,” said Sorensen. “It raises the question of how far left is he going to go? He’s billing himself as the pro-gun rights candidate, but this raises serious questions about who is Mike Michaud?”

An emailed invitation to the Giffords fundraiser, obtained by the Bangor Daily News, makes no mention of gun control nor any other issue, and it asks for donations of between $50 and $500 for the Aug. 9 “garden party” at a private residence in Kennebunk.

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Comments

HERB REA's picture

Maine Has Enough Gun Laws...

Enough is Enough!!! We already have reasonable gun laws in Maine (and, seriously, they are reasonable and they are enough):

> You want to purchase a gun at a gun shop or a gun show - then you must submit to a criminal background check
> You want to carry concealed - then you must submit to a criminal background check, a mental health background check, and a review of specific questions from the issuing authority
> There are specific laws against the endangerment of children - even to the extent of close proximity and accessibility of firearms
> Hunting, discharging of firearms, city limits, etc - these are all regulated by specific Maine laws (and some Federal Laws)

However, adding more won't fix what's broken - accessibility of firearms to criminals and mentally unstable. Criminals are criminals and don't abide by the law - hence the reason why they're criminal. No law will stop them. When addressing limiting firearms to the mentally unstable, on the other hand, only works if the infrastructure and personnel are in place to support the Law. Laws cannot and will not take the place of infrastructure.

Maine has plenty of reasonable gun laws.

CLAIRE GAMACHE's picture

Gun rights

There's a difference between supporting the rights of sportsmen and gun ranges to own weapons and to enjoy their sport and supporting the rights of every wife abuser, lunatic and knuckle dragger to be armed to the teeth. The NRA is primarily funded by gun manufacturer's so you know where they stand and they are doing responsible gun owners no favor by insuring we have hundreds of children killed every month and massacres in schools, malls, workplaces and theaters by lobbying to the tune of millions to prevent even the most modest form of regulation. Gun owners always say we already have tons of gun laws which is true but they are always fashioned in such a way that they are unenforceable or ineffective. Better to make sure the crazier they are the bigger the gun cabinet and to support militias that proclaim they want to overthrow the US government while waving American flags than to pass a law that might make us safe. The sane gun owner would recognize the difference between hysterical propaganda designed to make them run out and buy a gun and fact. Neither Michaud nor Obama will infringe on legitimate gun rights. Personally I think we should remove all the metal detectors from the courts and the legislatures. If we have to take our chances on getting shot by crazies so should they.

FRANK EARLEY's picture

When will it end?????????????????

When are these people so afraid of losing their guns going to figure out that it ain't going to happen. Some of these people trying to stop any attempt to regulate the sanity of gun owners, criminal backgrounds of gun owners, are just asking for deep trouble.I don't need a crazy fool living next door to me with a bigger gun than I have. Some of these gun control radicals scare the daylights out of me. I've owned guns all my life, I have never considered for a second that someone might take away my gun. I would however want to know that the guy next to me in the gravel pit shooting cans, is at the very least sane.
I could never figure out why a law abiding person purchasing a gun, would be so scared of a background check. I've worked for many trucking companies as a bonded carrier. They conduct a very thorough background check including fingerprint and I'm sure by now DNA checks. If you have something to hide you don't get to play with guns. Simple as that.............

You have to remember that the

You have to remember that the NRA, the 800 pound gorilla behind all the hysteria, is largely funded by the gun manufacturers, not the comparatively tiny member fees they collect. So of course the primary reason they stoke these fears is because IT SELLS MORE GUNS AND AMMO. One day the members will realize how they are being manipulated by these major corporations and rebel. They won't get rid of their guns, of course, but hopefully they'll just stand up and walk away.

AL PELLETIER's picture

You hit the nail on the head, Wayne

Corporate greed pays no attention to common sense and they use the 2nd to promote hysteria to keep the money rolling in.
LePage is a prime example of a "status quo" politician and he's proved it with his 180 vetoes (and counting). Mike Michaud has always been open to change and capable of compromise simply by using a little common sense, something LePage doesn't recognize. 8 meetings and 12 hours of his time devoted to a group of off the wall radicals might be "your sign".
I own many guns and would gladly undergo a background check to keep them knowing my neighbor, who is a narcissistic schizophrenic with a track record of domestic violence might lose his.
OK, here comes the comments: He can kill you as quickly with a knife. To that I say, who would you rather confront if you had a choice, the nut with a knife or the nut with a 9MM?

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