A common refrain heard from sportsmen is: "I stay out of politics. Not interested." Well, any self-respecting sportsman who values his right to bear arms, as a hunter or a recreational shooter, might want to rethink his detachment from politics. Washington, spurred by the tragic Sandy Hook killings and a media anti-gun frenzy, is churning with anti-gun sentiments. Vice president Joe Biden wants to outlaw half of our hunting rifles. His boss, President Obama, drunk with power, is hell bent on using executive orders to advance an anti-gun agenda. Make no mistake. The Second Amendment is on the line. Tyranny comes in many disguises. Not all tyrants wear jackboots, smash their fist on a podium or cast forth spittle when they speak. Some seek to seduce us with lofty rhetoric, emotional pledges to make our lives safer, and the exploitation of innocent children as theatrical props.
A great constitutional struggle, a clash between urban and rural America, is bubbling beneath the surface waiting to erupt like Mount. St. Helens. The gun control clamor is already evolving as a states rights issue. More and more states are rushing to nullify Federal gun-control initiatives that abridge our Constitutional right to bear arms.
Wyoming, which is a state like Maine with high per capita gun ownership and low per capita crime rates, is taking preemptive action to head off the feds. State lawmakers there are rallying behind a bill, which they expect to pass, that would nullify any and all future infringements on the right to keep and bear arms, including restrictions on semi-automatic weapons or magazines. Federal officials attempting to enforce unconstitutional statutes or executive orders would face felony charges and up to five years in prison.
"We're a sovereign state with our own constitutional form of government," said Republican state Rep. Kendell Kroeker, the chief sponsor of the Firearms Protection Act and a strong believer in both the Wyoming and U.S. constitutions he took an oath to uphold. "We've got a right to make our laws, and if the federal government is going to try to enforce unconstitutional laws on our people and take away the rights of Wyoming citizens, then we as a state are going to step up and make that a crime."
Good for Wyoming! Sportsmen there and other citizens who value their basic enabling freedoms, including the Second Amendment, are fortunate to have state lawmakers, like state Rep. Kroeker, who are stepping to the plate and advancing the cause.
Does Maine have a state lawmaker who, like Kendell Kroeker, is willing to take on the national anti-gun juggernaut?
According to David Trahan, executive director of the Sportsman's Alliance of Maine (SAM), just the reverse is happening at our state legislative level. Trahan reports that SAM is expecting 40-50 pieces of gun control legislation to be unveiled during this legislative session! To its credit, SAM will be monitoring this anti-gun legislation in Augusta and testify when it's appropriate. This fact, coupled with the anti-gun climate, is reason alone for sportsmen and women to consider supporting the good work of SAM by joining the ranks of this organization with a new or renewed membership.
As Trahan also pointed out, despite Maine's liberal urban lawmakers who are falling all over themselves to jump onto the Washington anti-gun bandwagon, Maine does have a state constitution that is unequivocal in its language when it comes to safeguarding the individual right of Maine citizens to bear arms. Trahan writes: "Prior to 1987, Article 1, Section 16 of the Maine Constitution read, "Every citizen has the right to keep and bear arms for the common defense; and that right shall never be questioned" In 1986, the State Supreme Court in the case of State vs. Friel determined that the rights of Maine citizens to own guns once thought to apply to individuals extended only to groups like the National Guard. Shocked by that ruling then Speaker of the House, John Martin introduced legislation that clarified the right to own firearms was an individual right. The Maine Legislature passed the amendment and Maine people ratified the change in 1987."
In ratifying the clarifying amendment to the state Constitution in 1987, Maine citizens took a bold step and, in effect, illustrated that the citizenry, if it knows how to exercise its sovereign authority can fend off bad choices by courts or wrong-headed politicians.
Unfortunately, much has changed with Maine's political and cultural climate since 1987, and not for the better. Instead of filling the legislative coffer with more anti-gun laws, Maine lawmakers would be wiser to follow the path blazed by Wyoming.
The author is editor of the Northwoods Sporting Journal. He isalso a Maine Guide, co-host of a weekly radio program "Maine Outdoors" heard Sundays at 7 p.m. on The Voice of Maine News-Talk Network (WVOM-FM 103.9, WQVM-FM 101.3) and former information officer for the Maine Dept. of Fish and Wildlife. His e-mail address is email@example.com and his new book is "A Maine Deer Hunter's Logbook."