Maine Gun Rights Coalition holds rally in Wiscasset

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Tuesday, March 12, 2013 - 6:00pm
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Maine Gun Rights Coalition supporters gather to protest changes in Maine’s concealed weapons permit laws. Courtesy of Jessica Beckwith
Maine Gun Rights Coalition supporters gather to protest changes in Maine’s concealed weapons permit laws. Below: Former State Representative Les Fossel addresses approximately 200 people Saturday, March 9 at a rally protesting legislation on concealed weapon permits. Courtesy of Jessica Beckwith

Folks walking or driving by the Wiscasset municipal parking lot the afternoon of March 9 took a second look, and, in some cases, probably didn’t believe what they were seeing: approximately 200 people gathered and most of them toting a gun.

The event was sponsored by the newly formed Maine Gun Rights Coalition; the founder is Jessica Beckwith, a 20-year-old student at the University of Maine.

During an interview March 11, Beckwith said the goal of the coalition was to make sure when lawmakers propose changes to gun laws, the voices of their constituents are heard.

Beckwith said she and others support “constitutional carry,” which means they don’t believe requiring concealed weapons permits is constitutional.

“People are concerned they are losing their rights,” Beckwith said. “We started out being a grassroots group and it has developed into a much larger organization because there are so many people who support the Second Amendment.”

The group is planning to become a nonprofit, non-partisan organization and it continues to accept new members daily, according to Beckwith.

The rally targeted State Representative Tim Marks (D-Pittson), who introduced seven bills in the Legislature to change Maine’s concealed weapons permit laws.

Marks, a retired state trooper serving his first term in the state Legislature, was present at the rally, but did not make his presence known. “After all there were about 200 to one, and since I was the one being targeted I decided to just listen.”

“I’m as 'red necked' as the next guy. The bills I have introduced in the Legislature are administrative bills. But this group consider them a threat to the Second Amendment.

“No one wants to take anyone’s rights away. Unfortunately, there are those who feel the Legislature doesn’t have the right to legislate. We respect their rights but we must be concerned for public safety,” he said.

The Maine Guns Right Coalition will continue to protest these changes, according to Beckwith. The next rally is being planned for May in Lewiston. Further information on the coalition can be obtained at gunrightsme@gmail.com/.

The gun rally drew a crowd, including many people from outside the Wiscasset area; however, Wiscasset Police Chief Troy Cline and Lincoln County Sheriff Todd Brackett both indicated the rally was peaceable, and there were no problems reported.

Charlotte Boynton can be reached at 207-844-4632 or cboynton@wiscassetnewspaper.com.