Selectmen consider placing mandatory gun ownership on town meeting warrant

Proposal failed by a 2-1 vote after board chair votes against his own motion

By Bill Pearson
Staff Writer

    SANGERVILLE — Even though voters of the western Maine town of Byron rejected a proposal to require residents to own a fire arm and ammunition earlier in the month, a Sangerville selectman believes it might be a good idea if his constituents also voted on a similar proposal at month’s end.
    After a 20-minute debate, the Sangerville board of selectmen voted not to place an article on the March 30 town meeting warrant which was designed to show politicians — at all levels — that the rural Piscataquis County town supported their state and federal constitutional right to bear arms.

    Chairman Tom Carone proposed the measure after a “native son” of the town requested to have residents consider the measure at the town meeting. Carone, who professed his support for gun ownership rights, also had recently spoken to his brother in Connecticut who had attended hearings in that state’s legislature about bills designed to restrict gun ownership rights
     Connecticut and several other states around the U.S. are considering imposing tighter gun ownership restrictions in the wake of the Sandy Hook Elementary School shootings.
    “At first I chuckled a bit about Byron’s article, but I found out that other towns in Maine have such an ordinance including nearby Bowerbank,” Carone said. “So the more I thought about it, I started to believe it could be seen as a symbolic gesture by the town to show it supports gun owner’s rights.”
    Selectman Irving McNaughton supported the proposal and it seemed the mandatory gun and ammunition requirement for Sangerville households was about to become the 74th article on the town warrant until the third board member, Melissa Randall, expressed her displeasure about the proposal.
    She described it as being “unenforceable” and would make the town look like “a bunch of crackpots” if they voted on it.
    “This is an absolutely foolish gesture,” Randall said. “It’s unenforceable and if we vote on it at town meeting then I’ll jump up and down and make a real stink about it. You guys look like a bunch of fools proposing something like this.”
    When McNaughton attempted to speak on behalf of the proposal or ask Carone questions, Randall would interrupt him and call him “crazy” and “foolish.”
    “You’re just doing this to stir up some crap, Irving,” Randall said.
    When it came to a vote only McNaughton voted in favor. Carone indicated that the proposal may work itself onto a  place on next year’s warrant.
    “I will not let this rest. It may return next year as an article or possibly at a special town meeting,” Carone said. “I’ll judge my vote on the sensibility of what’s best for the town now.”
    The selectmen will meet next at 6:30 p.m. on Thursday, March 28 in the municipal building.

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