Four supporters of a Second Amendment Sanctuary Town resolution adopted Tuesday night by the Paris Board of Selectmen sit at the Town Office.

PARIS — The Board of Selectmen voted unanimously Tuesday night to adopt a town resolution declaring Paris a Second Amendment Sanctuary Town.

Selectmen admitted the resolution was largely symbolic, meant to send a message to state lawmakers that Paris will uphold the Second Amendment in the face of what some residents view as anti-gun laws under consideration in Augusta.

In the words of Paris resident and Second Amendment supporter Kevin Pouliot, “Paris is now a ‘Constitution still applies’ zone.”

Paris resident Dennis Creaser proposed adopting the resolution at the selectmen’s meeting May 13.

During a May 16 interview, Creaser said he was inspired to propose the idea to selectmen after reading about several Rhode Island communities that have adopted Second Amendment sanctuary ordinances or resolutions.

The term specifically references so-called sanctuary cities that violate, prohibit or discourage local efforts to enforce immigration laws. In a May 15 email, Mufalo Chitam, executive director of the Maine Immigrants’ Rights Coalition, said the designation of Second Amendment Sanctuary City is intended to create fear and conflict.

“On the other hand,” Chitam said, “you have local law enforcement refusing to enforce gun safety laws because of some false notion that gun ownership is under attack.

“The concept of gun sanctuaries is designed to stoke fear and division. To say that these two things are the same is cynical and dangerous,” he said.

The resolution passed Tuesday night, which asserts the will of town officials, could be adopted without voter approval. An ordinance, meantime, is put to a vote of residents during a referendum or election.

Selectman voted to form a three-person committee to draft language for an ordinance that would appear on the ballot during the November election.

Four supporters turned out in favor of the sanctuary status, and no one came to speak against it.

I really thought there would be a lot more people here,” Chairman Rusty Brackett said. “I told my wife, ‘I got to go early for a place to park.'”

Pouliot said laws currently being “workshopped” in the Legislature could lead to the eventual confiscation of guns.

“The thing that really got me out of the whole ‘voterama’ was that they were going to come in and check your storage,” Pouliot said. “That gets them into your house. I’ve got two young kids. I’m a military veteran and I’m not going to let my kids get ahold of my guns.

“I’m also not going to let my government come in and make sure I’m a good parent. My guns haven’t killed anybody. That’s basically coming in there and convicting me before I’ve even been accused of a crime.” 

Pouliot was referencing LD 379, a bill that would require new standards for how guns must be stored.

“Do we really need a statewide administrative body that’s set up in every municipal body that’s set up for ‘turn ins?'” Pouliot said. “No. I think that was a precursor to a mandatory ‘turn in.’ A ‘buyback or else’ program. Those two things seem the most insidious.”

In a previous interview, Geoff Bickford, executive director of the Maine Gun Safety Coalition, said none of the bills proposed by the Legislature would come close to taking guns away.

“As someone who has participated in both drafting and supporting bills, directly and supporting other bills, there’s not a single bill in Augusta right now that would permanently remove someone’s ability to have a firearm or restrict an entire class of firearms,” Bickford said.

But Pouliot and selectmen, who were largely in support of the resolution, said they perceive the threat as real.

“These laws coming out of Augusta won’t be symbolic,” Pouliot said. “There will be dozens of court challenges but, in the meantime, people will be living under that.”

“Isn’t it ironic after all these years of being a country, and having this whole thing spelled out and nailed down, and fought and bled over, we’re back here doing this again?” Selectman Chris Summers said. 

“All we’re making is a statement,” he said. “We’re just saying, ‘Look, we like this concept, we feel like we’re headed in the right direction and there’s more to come.'”


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