AUGUSTA — Gov. Paul Le- Page drew cheers as he spoke to more than 100 people who turned out for a gun-rights rally outside the State House despite Friday’s snowstorm and bitterly cold temperatures.
“While I’m your governor, they will not infringe on your rights,” LePage said. “The Constitution is very, very clear, and free people, law-abiding citizens, should have the ability to carry guns. That’s what keeps us safe and free.”
LePage followed several other speakers including conservative Republican activist and former congressional candidate John Frary. The Republican governor mingled with the crowd afterward and shook hands with many of those attending, despite the 5-degree temperature and a stiff wind that blew snow across the courtyard between the State House and State Office Building.
Rally participants held American flags and placards, one of which said: “Tyrants Fear Armed Free Men.”
The rally was held two days after a coalition, formed in the wake of the Dec. 14 Connecticut school shootings, announced its support for state legislation to keep guns out of the hands of mentally ill people, limit magazine capacity, have universal background checks for gun purchases and promote gun safety.
One of the speakers at the rally, Rep. Deborah Sanderson, R-Chelsea, said people attended to show their concern over state as well as proposed federal legislation, which includes bans on assault weapons and high-capacity magazines. Sanderson said it’s important to focus on mental health as a root cause of gun violence.
Similar rallies have been held in other state capitals, including Trenton, N.J., where 300 people and two legislators gathered Friday outside the Statehouse in opposition to New Jersey’s gun-control laws, which are among the nation’s toughest.
In Raleigh, N.C., about 300 people showed up outside the Legislative Building on Tuesday to show support for new state laws broadening access to guns and resisting proposed federal restrictions.