AUGUSTA – The right of Maine and United States citizens to petition their government is so sacred that it is enshrined in the First Amendment of the United States Constitution, and in Article 1, Section 15 of the Maine Constitution.
But Senator Everett “Brownie” Carson (D – Cumberland) doesn’t seem to care much for citizen petitions, at least if they are from his constituents who oppose gun confiscation laws.
Mr. Brakey says that similar packets of petitions were delivered to every legislator in Augusta with petitions signed by their constituents as well as Governor Janet Mills and that Senator Carson was the only person to reject them.
Brakey says Carson also gave him a copy of an op-ed the Senator had written in support of the ‘red flag’ gun confiscation bill currently being considered by lawmakers and then told Brakey to never give him anything like that again.
The envelope contained petitions from about 40 of Senator Carson’s constituents who oppose the ‘red flag’ gun confiscation bill, L.D. 1312.
The right to petition has been used to
protect the free speech of individuals and groups across the political spectrum
since the founding of our country, including modern-day lawsuits to prevent
elected officials from blocking certain commenters on social media.
Article 1, Section 15 of the Maine Constitution reads:
Section 15. Right of petition. The people have a right at all times in an orderly and peaceable manner to assemble to consult upon the common good, to give instructions to their representatives, and to request, of either department of the government by petition or remonstrance, redress of their wrongs and grievances.
The First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution reads:
Amendment I. Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.
On Friday, the Legislature’s Criminal Justice and Public Safety Committee held public hearings on 10 proposals that would impact gun rights in Maine. Gun rights advocates had dubbed the flood of gun control bills a “Second Amendment Tsunami” or “Gun Control Tsunami.”
Opponents of the legislation outnumbered supporters, but many opponents of the legislation were directed into overflow rooms, making an accurate count difficult. A work session for committee consideration of the red-flag gun confiscation bill was postponed this week.
Senator Carson has been an outspoken advocate of a gun confiscation bill which would allow a secret court process to be used to take guns away from Mainers who have not committed a crime. He has published an op-ed in the Bangor Daily News and testified in support of the bill.
Supporters say that bill would make Maine safer, while opponents say it violates the constitutional rights of gun owners in multiple ways, including due process.