POLITICS
02/20/2013 11:44 am ET Updated Feb 20, 2013

Paul LePage, Maine Governor, Signs Law Temporarily Making Concealed Carry Permits Data Private

Maine Governor Paul LePage (R) signed a law Tuesday that will block public access to records of concealed carry permits in the state. The temporary block will last until April 30 and came after a Bangor newspaper requested information on the permits.

The emergency measure easily surpassed the two-thirds majority necessary for passage, with the Senate unanimously voting for it and the House passing the law by a 129-11 vote.

The passage of the measure underscores the kinds of hurdles any national gun control legislation may face. The bill passed with wide bipartisan support and despite the objections of just 11 House Democrats.

State Rep. Corey Wilson has proposed a separate bill that would make the ban permanent. Wilson said the law is necessary because public information about the permits "makes it easy for criminals to identify where the guns are."

The information on the permits has been available for anyone who wants it for at least 28 years, the Portland Press-Herald reported.

The Bangor Daily News issued a public records request last Wednesday for all concealed carry gun owners, but withdrew the request on Friday under heavy pressure from gun owners and state Republicans, who blasted the paper. The newspaper said it had no intention of publishing the information in full, as the Journal News, a Westchester County newspaper, did last December. There was also a second request for the information from a man in Florida.

A Facebook page called "Boycott Bangor Daily News Dont Tread on Us" had over 1,700 likes on Wednesday morning.

One progressive group in the state, Maine's Majority, objected to the passage of the bill. "Either we believe that the public has a right to know about the business of government or we don't. But one thing we can't do is let politics dictate which groups get special treatment. Unfortunately, that's exactly what happened today," the group wrote in a statement. "We hope we can have a calm and reasonable debate about this important issue in the coming weeks."

CORRECTION: A previous version of this post incorrectly stated that the GOP has a slight majority in the Maine Legislature. Democrats have the majority in both chambers.

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