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Maine Considers Law to Ban Paramilitary Training

The policy prohibits groups of two or more people assembling to train with weapons with the intention to cause civil disorder

Maine Considers Law to Ban Paramilitary Training

Lawmakers in Maine’s House of Representatives have passed a bill prohibiting paramilitary training. 

Currently, 26 other states have similar provisions in effect. 

The bill – LD 2130/HP 1354 – was introduced on Jan. 3 and was passed by the House 66-60 on Feb. 21. 

Under the proposed measure, knowingly teaching others or assembling groups to take part in trainings deemed to be paramilitary "intended to be used in or in furtherance of civil disorder" is forbidden. This includes any form of instruction “in the use, application or making of a firearm, explosive or incendiary device capable of causing injury to or the death of … another person." Furthermore, the policy bans groups of two or more people from assembling for the same purpose.

Exemptions are granted for legitimate law enforcement purposes, lawful sporting activities, or educational instructional events “authorized by the State or the Federal Government to teach military or naval science.”

Violations of the law could be punished by up to five years in prison and a $5,000 fine. 

The measure comes in the wake of a rise in public demonstrations by white nationalist groups in the state,” reports AP News. “Supporters … have said it would prevent groups from organizing for the purpose of terrorizing marginalized groups.”

The bill was sponsored by state Representative Laurie Osher, a Democrat, following community concerns about extremism.

In July, the Southern Poverty Law Center ran a report about a "neo-Nazi and ex-Marine" beginning a rumored compound in Springfield to support a "white supremacist community." The report was picked up and amplified by local news outlets, which warned that "it is not uncommon for neo-Nazi groups to purchase rural land for compounds, training bases and strategizing violent acts while downplaying what they are doing as harmless."

“While the [Springfield] facility did not ultimately take shape … those events highlighted the need to clarify language in the current law to provide better remedies to ensure such activities can be prevented and stopped if necessary,” Osher said during a public hearing in January, per the Maine Morning Star. “This legislation seeks to do exactly that.” 

Although the House’s Criminal Justice and Public Safety Committee was initially deadlocked, the committee ultimately voted 7-6 in favor of an amended version of the bill. Still, the application of the bill remains a concern among lawmakers.

“If this becomes law, I am concerned about how it’s used practically on the ground,” said Representative Nina Milliken, a Democrat, per News from the States.

Maine’s bill will not be sent to the state Senate for consideration.

Vermont was the 26th state to pass a law penalizing owning or operating paramilitary training camps in May 2023. Anyone in violation of the policy can be fined up to $50,000 or face five years in prison.

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