LEWISTON — After a meeting with the mayors of Lewiston and Auburn on Wednesday, Republican Gov. Paul LePage told reporters that people carrying concealed firearms could help with the state’s illegal drug crisis.

“Everybody in Maine, we have constitutional carry. Load up and get rid of the drug dealers,” LePage said. “Because folks, they are killing our kids. Tomorrow it might be one of your friends, one of your relatives; it might be you, unknowingly.”

He later said he wasn’t advocating for vigilante justice, but he does support stiffening penalties for those who traffic drugs in Maine.

At least two bills before the Legislature aim to increase sentences for the most serious drug-trafficking charges. For example, drug dealers would face a minimum 10-year sentence, rather than a five-year sentence.

Earlier in the week, LePage jokingly suggested that convicted drug dealers should be put to death with a guillotine. Earlier this month, he said heroin dealers should be injected with the drugs they are pushing as a punishment.

On Wednesday, LePage expressed empathy for drug addicts and families that are wrestling with addiction issues.

“Where’s the outrage?” LePage asked a group of reporters. “Let’s get mad and let’s stop it. How it’s going to stop is if we the people become the intel for law enforcement and we make it socially unacceptable; it will go away.”

LePage said he would offer legislation that would make it a Class A felony when a dealer provides drugs that lead to a fatal overdose. That dealer would face a prison sentence of between 20 years and life, LePage said.

Asked whether any other state had a similar law or whether there was any precedent, LePage bristled. “You know, what is this about it’s never been done? How do you move ahead if you don’t get things done? Somebody’s got to be first.”

LePage said he supported bringing back the death penalty in Maine and said those who deal drugs that result in an overdose death should be charged with homicide.

“I’m only taking the information from the medical profession, that it is an illness,” the governor said. “Well, the drug dealers are killing people with an illness.” 

He also said he would not bring legislation to reintroduce the death penalty in Maine this session but may in 2017, after the next Legislature is elected.

“If you don’t want to use the guillotine, you pick the one of your choice,” he said. “I don’t care, but I really believe that Maine needs the death penalty.” 

LePage also said he wanted to make Maine’s drug laws so tough that they would deter drug dealers from doing business in the state.

“I would like to make it so tough they don’t want to come to Maine; they stay in Connecticut, New York, wherever they are from, but don’t come to Maine,” LePage said.

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