When Maine Governor Paul LePage signed legislation that will allow “constitutional carry” of firearms without a permit, the gun prohibition lobby was infuriated, accusing him of going against the wishes of a majority of Pine Tree State voters.
But rights aren’t up to a popular vote or an opinion poll, so the Republican governor was sticking up for the right to keep and bear arms.
The legislation, dubbed “An Act To Authorize the Carrying of Concealed Handguns without a Permit,” was sponsored by freshman Republican Sen. Eric Brakey, elected last year and at age 26, the youngest serving member of the Maine State Senate. More about this rising star in a minute.
The 66-year-old Gov. LePage formerly served as a member of the Waterville City Council and then as that community’s mayor. A former businessman and consultant, his first run for governor was in 2010, and he was re-elected in 2014, becoming the first Republican to take the office in two decades, and hold onto it. He is the 74th governor of the state, and a Maine native, born in Lewiston.
According to a biography on-line, Gov. LePage grew up under tough conditions and spoke French as his primary language. When he applied to Husson University, he had to take a written SAT exam in French after having been rejected on a poor verbal score. Intervening on his behalf was the first husband of former U.S. Sen. Olympia Snowe, Peter Snowe. LePage went on to graduate with a Bachelor of Science degree in business administration, and he earned a Master ’s in Business Administration from the University of Maine.
The often-sharp-spoken LePage is no stranger to ruffling feathers, and he certainly did not break character when he signed the new law, making Maine the fifth state in the nation to adopt permitless carry. In so doing, he went against police chiefs in the state, who had argued that the background checks required for a carry permit kept guns out of the hands of felons. The new law is slated to take effect in mid-October.
A target of criticism by the media, LePage has sometimes criticized the press as well.
Maine is among states that allow open carry without a permit, but concealed carry has required a background check. Critics of the measure essentially brought their talking points from the anti-gun playbook, arguing that it would allow criminals to carry guns, as if they didn’t already.
But the new law had what one newspaper called “broad bipartisan support,” pretty much clinching the deal and allowing Maine to join ranks with Alaska, Arizona, Wyoming and Kansas. Laws that expand the carry rights of law-abiding citizens grate on anti-gunners, who have fought similar efforts including nearby New Hampshire, where that state’s governor vetoed “constitutional carry” legislation about the same time that LePage was inking the Maine measure in Augusta.
That signature will likely put Sen. Brakey’s name “on the map” for Maine Second Amendment activists. Right out of the gate earlier this year, Brakey introduced the legislation that has now become law. What is clearly important here is that Brakey put forth the effort with bipartisan support; the kind of accomplishment that typically comes with a few years of seniority.
According to an on-line biography, Brakey got a majority of votes in all five of the municipalities in the district he represents; a feat that hasn’t been seen since former U.S. Sen. Snowe ran in 1976 for the state Senate.
But Brakey has obviously hit the ground running, being named chair of the Health and Human Services Committee, and serving on the Environment and Natural Resources Committee.
A resident of Auburn, he represents District 20, which includes his hometown, plus the communities of Mechanic Falls, Minot, New Gloucester and Poland.
He’s no newcomer, since his family has been in Maine for eighth generations.
Perhaps the best news for Pine Tree State gun owners is that he’s not term limited until 2022. When he’s not doing politics, Brakey serves as the financial manager for Brakey Energy, a family business.
He graduated from Ohio University, Honors Tutorial College, and he is a volunteer with the Lewiston/Auburn Community Little Theatre and Big Brothers, Big Sisters of Androscoggin County.