Maine Power Company Warns Gun Owners Of Pitfalls

Daniel6D / Pixabay

The issues a power company faces and those gun owners might face are usually fairly different. After all, we’re completely different in almost every way imaginable. One’s a company that produces electricity. We’re private citizens just going about our own lives.

However, in Maine, a power company is warning firearm owners that a proposal that would impact them might pave the way for restrictions against the Second Amendment later on.

A group aligned with Central Maine Power Co. fighting a referendum aiming to kill the $1 billion hydropower corridor argued it could empower “gun grabbers” in an appeal to conservatives.

The tactic highlights how project backers are making targeted appeals to parts of Maine’s electorate in the final weeks of the campaign over Question 1. But it is a false conflation of the direct effects of the referendum — which deals only with permits for infrastructure projects — and concerns about precedent that have no direct link to guns.

Question 1 contains three provisions, each aiming to stop CMP’s corridor, a transmission line in western Maine that would bring hydropower from Quebec to New England’s energy grid. A “yes” vote on the question would ban transmission lines in the Upper Kennebec region and require retroactive legislative approval for all transmission line projects since 2014 and similar projects requiring public lands leases since 2020.

CMP allies have seized on retroactive portions of the referendum with a political committee named Mainers for Fair Laws, which has argued retroactivity is unfair and could affect other businesses. But a recent mailer from the group goes further, saying Question 1 “empowers politicians and out-of-staters with a new set of tools that can be used to target gun owners.”

This is presented as if CMP is making an erroneous claim in an attempt to garner support, but I’m not so sure they’re wrong.

Yes, the bill in question only deals with CMP, even the part about retroactive approval. However, how many times have we seen restrictions to gun rights justified by previous actions?

It’s pretty common, actually. The most famous example is how it’s supposedly fine to restrict rights because you can’t yell “Fire!” in a crowded theater. Of course, that argument is based on a gross misunderstanding of just about everything involved in that case, but we’ve all heard that argument.

As a result, it’s really not of the realm of possibility that once a precedent is set here that it might be expanded to other areas. For example, while Maine is a pretty gun-friendly state–and not just by the standards of the northeastern parts of the US, but overall–that could change. Imagine passing a requirement to get a permit prior to purchasing a firearm, then the legislature decides to pass a law requiring a retroactive permit to purchase?

Proponents of such a measure would likely look at the CMP proposal and argue that it’s not out of line to ask for a similar thing for guns.

Yeah, CMP is using some alarmist language to make it feel like it’s more of a pressing issue for gun owners than it actually is, but I’m not so sure that their overall message is wrong by any stretch of the imagination. Not with the stuff I’ve seen over the years.