Maine Town Strikes Down Proposal to Force Mandatory Gun Ownership

Byron, Maine's 140 residents will vote on mandatory gun ownership for the town

Residents in the tiny town of Byron, Maine, voted yesterday to strike down a proposal that would have required every resident to pack heat.

The town voted on the issue last night at a town hall meeting after lawmakers proposed mandatory gun ownership for Byron’s 140 residents. The proposal didn’t make it through, with about 50 of Byron’s registered voters coming out against it. The majority of Byron’s residents own guns as it stands, thus making the vote mostly symbolic.

Head Selectman Anne Simmons-Edmund was at first a supporter of the proposal, but even she recognized that it would be unenforceable (she even ended up voting the proposal down herself). “It was never my intention to force anyone to own a gun who doesn’t want to. My purpose was to make a statement in support of the Second Amendment (to the U.S. Constitution),” she told NBC News. Simmons-Edmund is also a policewoman in a nearby town, and she said that she proposed the idea once she learned that the residents were concerned about the growing crime rates in their area.

Anne Simmons-Edmund’s father, Bruce Simmons, who originally proposed the measure, voted it down as well, saying that the language should have read that the town would “recommend” rather than “require” its residents to own firearms. The town was generally unhappy about the proposal, mostly because of the ridicule they’ve received through the media attention around the story.

This might seem like a one-time thing, but Byron isn’t even the only town in Maine that considered something like it. The nearby town of Sabbatus voted against putting a similar measure before its residents. The town of Nelson, Georgia, who utilizes only one police officer for its 1,300 residents, has also considered holding a similar vote in an effort to keep the town secure.