Portland police chief says gun law change puts citizens, cops in danger

  • Mail this page!
  • Delicious
  • 0

PORTLAND — Police Chief Michael Sauschuck on Wednesday said a change in state law allowing residents to carry concealed handguns without permits in public will make the state a more dangerous place.

“When this legislation goes into effect tomorrow – police officers and sheriffs around the state – their lives will be in danger,” Sauschuck said. “Our citizens, their lives will be in danger.”

The law change, championed by Sen. Eric Brakey, R-Auburn, went into effect Thursday. It allows anyone older than 21 who is not otherwise prohibited by state or federal law from possessing a firearm to carry a concealed handgun without a permit. Those 18 to 20 years old who are either veterans or on active duty with the U.S. armed forces may also carry concealed handguns without permits under the law change.

Sauschuck said Wednesday that his officers on Tuesday, Oct. 12, charged a man with carrying a concealed handgun without a permit. Peter Shepard, 58, was carrying a loaded .45-caliber handgun at the Northgate Shopping Plaza.

Sauschuck said police were alerted to Shepard after a report that he was threatening others with the weapon. Sauschuck said while police were unable to locate any victims they did find witnesses who said Shepard had been pointing the gun at the occupants of a car that drove off.

Sauschuck also said it appeared Shepard had altered his handgun with a fluorescent pink paint in order to make it look like a toy or an airsoft pellet gun.

“Mr. Shepard stated to us at the scene that he carried this firearm because he wanted to protect himself from police officers,” Sauschuck said. “So he’s in public with a loaded .45-caliber handgun that is painted to make individuals think that weapon is a toy, and he is carrying that firearm to protect himself from police officers.”

Sauschuck said had the incident with Shepard occurred Thursday, officers would have had no other choice but to return the gun to Shepard and ask him to go home.

“This is the exact situation, as law enforcement, that we are concerned about,” Sauschuck said. “I’m sure our legislators, many of them, are highly intelligent and they are invested in their communities, but the individuals who voted for this bill made the wrong choice.”

Supporters of the law change, including Brakey, say states with laws that allow more individuals to carry concealed handguns with fewer restrictions have proven to have lower overall crime rates than those that don’t.

“Our neighbor Vermont, they have had this in place for 200 years,” Brakey said. “They are the safest state in the nation with the lowest amount of violent crime per capita.”

Brakey said that while Sauschuck may feel the law change is going to make the state more dangerous, he has also heard from individual police officers who feel otherwise.

“I’ve spoken with individual police officers who feel both ways, actually,” Brakey said. “Some are for it, some are against it. There is not one person who can claim to speak for all law enforcement officers; they are individual people with their own sets of views and value systems.”

He said a number of retired law enforcement officers who are now state lawmakers, such as Sen. David Burns, R-Whiting, voted for the law change because they did not believe the change would put police officers in any greater danger.

“If (Burns) thought for a single moment that passing this was going to put any law enforcement officer in any additional danger he would not have supported it for a moment, but he was proud to support it,” Brakey said.

Jason Moen, the deputy police chief in Brakey’s hometown of Auburn, said officers did have legitimate concerns over the law change.

Moen said he worries that some who elect to now carry concealed handguns without permits may not be well-educated on Maine’s self-defense laws or on gun safety in general.

“We are also concerned about more guns being on the street, but our officers are trained to treat subjects as armed until they know otherwise,” Moen said. “People need to be clear on the law and if they interact with an officer while carrying concealed unpermitted, they need to communicate that to the officer.”

The law change requires those who are carrying weapons without permits to immediately inform law enforcement when they encounter them that they are carrying a hidden handgun or they could also face a misdemeanor charge.

The change does not allow firearms to be carried in any of the places where they are currently prohibited, including schools or other public buildings such as the State House in Augusta or in any state or federal courts.

The law change keeps in place Maine’s concealed weapons permitting system, which allows anyone who wants a permit to apply and receive one through the Maine State Police or a local police department.

Some may still want permits because it will allow them to carry concealed weapons in other states that require permits and recognize a Maine permit as valid.

Opponents of the change have said removing safety training and the criminal and mental health background checks now required for a concealed handgun permit will make it more likely unstable or dangerous individuals will begin carrying handguns in public.

Portland Police Chief Michael Sauschuck

State Sen. Eric Brakey, R-Auburn

  • H.C.

    This is the stupidest thing I’ve read today, Officers are not in anymore danger, as the fools who are a threat to us are carrying regardless the law, and they are the actual threat to us, not your average citizen going to the grocery or the bank. The Jack lag threatening people with his .45 is still breaking the law regardless if he is carrying legal or not, and this just proves the point. Criminals will carry guns no matter, and this is only expanding the rights of protection to decent people who otherwise would follow the law and not be able to defend themselves against folks who don’t.

    • truther

      Read the article.

      “Sauschuck said had the incident with Shepard occurred Thursday, officers
      would have had no other choice but to return the gun to Shepard and ask
      him to go home.” So no, he apparently wouldn’t still be breaking the law.

      If “decent people” believe they need a gun for personal protection, then they can get a permit. it’s not that hard. If they’re unwilling to do that then, pretty much by definition, they’re not people we should want going around carrying a gun.

      • Shotcaller

        I would disagree that “decent” people can just go out and get a permit to carry concealed. Depending on your state and political climate, it’s not quite so simple. Some Sheriffs or Police Chiefs may not be as willing as others to issue. I know, my office used to receive the applications. We eventually kisses it off to the Sheriff to deal with because our department head didn’t want to deal with it.

        • truther

          Thanks for the inside perspective.

          Obviously the only state I’m interested in for purposes of this article is Maine. The police chief of Maine’s largest city says this new law puts his officers at risk.

          I’d be AMAZED if there are any Mainers out there who were victims of a crime where they should have had a gun to protect themselves but were refused a carry permit. Certainly the risk of that having happened must be vastly lower than the risk of somebody in a parking lot taking potshots at a fleeing shoplifter or something. Just because you have a Constitutional right to something doesn’t mean there shouldn’t be reasonable restrictions on exercising that right.

      • H.C.

        Here intimidating someone with a weapon is a crime, I’m sure it’s no different in Maine. This is an article written with an agenda, you cannot take it at face value. Someone with the name Truther, should be well aware of that……

      • ND

        H.C. is right, you better truly believe your life is in danger to justify pulling that firearm from its holster. This clown is lucky he didn’t get killed by a police officer or another armed citizen.

  • bsprings

    It’s true that Vermont has had concealed carry for many decades and is one of our safest states. Their law doesn’t seem to have resulted in any increase in crime or safety issues.

  • Mytoosense

    Guy is incompetent.
    What, does he think this is the first time someone has tried this.
    History shows they are in no more danger than now, actually safer.
    If he had done any type of research he’d know this.
    The problem with liberals is they are mentally ill, they form beliefs/opinions based on emotions/feelings rather than fact, reason and logic.

  • amainah

    All of this argument is hypothetical. — “Just imagine”. Maine has had a concealed weapon permitting system for years. No training or knowledge of firearm safety was required. You were checked out either by local law enforcement or some one in your town office who was familiar with you. We never had the rash of mass shootings back then. Most people who were not familiar with firearms never considered carrying one concealed anyway. It was only recently that classes were required for new permit applicants. Those of us who got them under the previous system were not required to attend a class to renew our permits unless we let them lapse for a certain period of time.

    I do have a concealed carry permit. If you meet me on the street or in a restaurant am I carrying or not? How relevant is it really. If I threaten you with it then I have broken the law unless you have put me in a position where I fear for my life and am willing to take the chance of being sued or arrested for criminal threatening by using deadly force to protect myself. It sounds in the article as if this man was threatening or at least that is what witnesses said. Isn’t that enough to separate him from his weapon?

  • Diamondback

    Just like all theother MORONS that made the same claim in the past, he will be PROVEN WRONG by the citizenry and facts as time progresses.

    He should be hung by the patriots in his AO just for advocating against his Oath of Office and their Constitution and BoRs.


  • Barry Hirsh

    His predecessor (Detroit PD Chief James E. Craig) doesn’t agree.

  • Louis Marschalko

    If you don’t trust an armed citizenry, chief, you should just hand in your badge and go home.

    • Kevin McCarthy

      The Arrow Cross. Wonderful. It’s always helpful when someone chimes in with fascist, neo-nazi symbols.

      • Louis Marschalko

        You would have preferred the rainbow flag, maybe?

  • Ron

    Says the politically appointed police chief of a far left liberal mayor. Imagine that, the far left once again out with their predictions of death and doom that never ever come true.

    Guns in the hands of law abiding citizens are nothing to fear, never have been and never will be. And criminals dont abide by the laws anyway, its why we call them criminals. Better to arm the potential victim and allow them to defend themselves than disarm them and clean up the mess after.