Last year (2021), Gun Owners of Maine launched the Tolhurst Grant Program.
Named to honor the work and legacy of our late President (Todd Tolhurst), these grants were awarded to individuals and organizations that offer hands-on firearm instruction. The funds were for the purpose of providing free or reduced-cost training to new and inexperienced gun owners in Maine.
We are happy to announce that we are offering the grants again in 2022. Up to ten grants of $500 each (one per training entity) will be awarded.
Grant applications will be accepted from 01/16/2022 through 03/16/2022. Applications must be received by 03/16/2022 to be considered. Terms and conditions are outlined in the grant application.
Questions can be directed to Brett Bulmer or firstname.lastname@example.org.
The grant application can be downloaded here: 2022 Tolhurst Grant Application.pdf
130th Legislature (1st Session) Recap
Once again, we saw an array of gun-related bills introduced in Augusta. Our members played a significant role in defeating the agenda of the gun control lobby this session. These anti-gun bills were killed:
LD 805: An Act To Allow Municipalities To Prohibit Firearms at Voting Places
LD 976: An Act To Amend the Definition of "Machine Gun" To Include Bump Stock Devices
LD 999: An Act Regarding Background Checks for the Sale of Firearms (Universal Background Checks)
LD 1015: An Act To Ban Hunting with Ammunition That Contains Lead
LD 1068: An Act To Restrict Access to Weapons Pursuant to Court Order in Cases of Harassment (Red Flag Law)
LD 1454: An Act To Prohibit Untraceable and Undetectable Firearms
We even gained some ground with the passage of these pro-gun bills:
LD 635: An Act To Repeal the Requirement To Obtain a Permit before Hunting with a Noise Suppression Device. Sponsored by Senator Trey Stewart, this eliminated the requirement to obtain a permit for hunting with a suppressor.
LD 884: An Act To Restrict the Collection of Surveillance Video, Information and Data Regarding Lawful Firearm Purchases. Another bill sponsored by Senator Trey Stewart, this places restrictions on the Department of Public Safety’s ability to retain information or data concerning firearm purchases.
LD 1140: An Act To Establish a Sales Tax Exemption for the Purchase of Firearm Safety Devices. This bill, sponsored by Representative Patrick Corey, created a sales tax exemption for the purchase of firearm safety devices (safes, lockboxes, and trigger or barrel locks that are specifically designed for securing firearms). It goes into effect January 1, 2022.
Gun Owners of Maine Awards $3,000 in Grants to Promote Firearm Education & Training
To honor the memory and work of our late President, Todd Tolhurst, Gun Owners of Maine instituted the Tolhurst Grant Program. The purpose of these grants is to help provide free or reduced-cost training for new gun owners. In 2021, we awarded six grants of $500 each to Maine-based firearm instructors to help make hands-on training more accessible and affordable. A total of 55 individuals received live training with certified firearms instructors. Additionally, Androscoggin Fish & Game utilized a grant to help fund three educational events at their range, attended by a total of 178 people.
We expect to offer these grants again in 2022.
GOME Helps Get Youth Shooting Team Off the Ground in Southern Maine
Andee Reardon O'Brion from East Coast School of Safety is starting up a youth competitive shooting team in Southern Maine. Believing in the importance of teaching young people safe and responsible gun use, Gun Owners of Maine donated a Ruger 10/22 and a Ruger SR22 to help get Andee’s project off the ground. This effort was further supported by a donation of 800 rounds of .22LR ammunition from The Gun Shop, LLC in Augusta.
For The Love of Levers Fundraiser
In July, Kelly Stewart from Foothills Firearms Safety in Sumner organized and hosted a wonderful fundraising event for us. Nearly 100 people attended this Western-themed gathering that featured live music, a shooting competition, a number of prize drawings, and an ample supply of food and beverages.
Outreach & Growth
Despite many event cancelations this year, our volunteers were still able to share our mission at a number of venues:
· Gun shows in Houlton, Bangor, Topsham, Augusta, Bath, Sanford, and Wiscasset
· Emergency Preparedness Expo at the Cross Insurance Center in Bangor
· United Bikers of Maine Toy Run at the Windsor Fairgrounds
Even with fewer events being held, our membership continues to grow as an increasing number of Mainers are coming to the realization that our right to keep and bear arms is precious and worth defending.
Today, it’s been a year since the passing of Todd Tolhurst, the first President of Gun Owners of Maine.
Todd probably did more than any other person to advance the growth and success of our organization. Gun Owners of Maine, as we know it today, would not exist if not for the tireless work of Todd Tolhurst.
As we pause to remember the unparalleled leadership and vision of a truly amazing man, may we be inspired and challenged by his example, and further resolve to defend one of our most fundamental civil rights: the right to keep and bear arms.
To honor his legacy and to further advance firearm education and training—Gun Owners of Maine is announcing the establishment of the Tolhurst Grant program for 2021.
We are offering $500 grants to individuals and organizations that provide firearm instruction. These funds are for the purpose of providing reduced-cost training to new and inexperienced gun owners. Terms and conditions are outlined in the grant application. Up to 10 grants are available (one per training entity).
Grant applications will be accepted from 01/16/2021 through 03/16/2021. Applications must be received by 03/16/2021 to be considered.
The grant application can be downloaded here: GOME Grant Application 2021.pdf
Gun Owners of Maine has issued our candidate grades for the upcoming election: 2020 Candidate Gun Rights Grades
Gun Owners of Maine does not endorse candidates and grades them solely on the issue of gun rights.
We’re doing something a little different this year. For each election cycle, many candidates do not receive grades from us. In the past, we did not list those candidates. This year, we are listing them with a question mark (?) next to their name. There are basically two reasons a candidate might not have a grade: 1) It could indicate a lack of recent gun-related legislative activity on their part; or 2) They did not complete our Gun Policy Questionnaire.
This is where you come in.
Politicians should be held accountable for where they stand on defending your rights. We like to get them on record.
If a candidate in your district has not yet been graded, respectfully invite them to complete our questionnaire: https://docs.google.com/forms/d/e/1FAIpQLSekr4Q3sigZb_mr7BoRhXlz5y8meo6512s-pF_U9JMQEOv7Ow/viewform
Or, encourage them to issue public statements clarifying their position on gun rights. The more specific they are about which gun control policies they support or oppose, the better.
Grades may be added or updated between now and the November 3rd election.
AN ORDER REGARDING ESSENTIAL BUSINESSES AND OPERATIONS
March 26, 2020
Effective immediately, all business named as “Non-Essential”, without specific exemptions, are required to cease operations. This current Executive Order is set to expire at Midnight on April 8, 2020. Depending on the current status of COVID-19 this may be extended, or in the best case scenario, allowed to expire. The Federal orders have been implemented in this case. After reaching out to the Governor’s office for clarification, working hand in hand with the National Rifle Association and Sportsman’s Alliance of Maine, we have been told that gun shops in Maine are not listed as “Essential Businesses” by name. Larger stores, primarily known as “Box Stores” who also sell firearms and ammunition are allowed to remain in business under this Executive Order.
While we understand, and are sympathetic to the concerns with virus transmission, we feel that not allowing citizens to access firearms, ammunition and other items related to self-preservation, sets a dangerous precedent. There are plenty of avenues to reduce viral transmission that are being implemented by other businesses which DO qualify as “Essential” and have protection from closure. Some of these exemptions include convenience stores and hardware stores. While we see the value in both, we also can’t overlook the importance of access to items of critical, Constitutionally protected items such as firearms and ammunition, which rise well above “convenience” items.
Gun shops are important centers for training, repair, refinishing, and resupply for Law Enforcement, Security Personnel and citizens in their respective area. Allowing the closing of gun shops would put every community at a severe disadvantage with respect to safety and security, and would be magnified several times over during a crisis situation. Local police officers and their departments are serviced by their area gun shops. Closing these vital businesses down leaves them as unprepared and vulnerable as the citizens they serve and protect.
Far beyond “convenience”, firearms, ammunition and their accessories are a primary tool of many Mainers, and necessary to participate in hunting, predator and animal control.
While we understand that drastic measures may be necessary to assist in curbing the transmission of COVID-19, shops that sell constitutionally protected items, such as firearms, ammunition and accessories cannot be logically overlooked, especially while exempting stores that carry items primarily for convenience. For millions of Americans, firearms are considered a NECESSITY, playing an enhanced role in times of public discomfort, crisis and unrest.
We are disappointed that gun shops haven’t been initially named as an exempted “Essential Business” and can’t overlook the strong sentiment across the nation for their necessity. Areas that are MUCH less friendly to firearms ownership have had their initial Executive Orders modified to specifically allow them to reopen and remain open to serve their community.
We urge you to contact Governor Mills and respectfully request that Gun Shops be added to the list of “Essential Businesses” as soon as possible.
Board of Directors, Gun Owners of Maine
UPDATE: As of 04/03/2020, Maine's list of Essential Businesses and Operations now includes Federal Firearms Licensees.
Essential Businesses and Operations
To my fellow Gun Owners of Maine Brothers and Sisters in Arms;
I am not in a loss for words very often, but today is that day…. I wanted to let you know as soon as I could. I wanted you to hear, here at home, first hand.
This morning I received a message that I knew was coming, but hoped would never happen. I feel sick to my stomach as I write this, as I am also trying to process it along with you, this very second. We have all lost a friend and family member this morning, (1/16/2020) in the passing of Todd Tolhurst.
After not feeling very well for a while, Todd’s health took a fast turn for the worse a few weeks ago. We hoped it was a brief bout with some nasty bug, but it turned out to be a very aggressive cancer that took his life Thursday morning.
Todd and I met several years ago, introduced by a common friend, during the rise of what we now know today as Gun Owners of Maine. We have been friends since that first introduction and have shared many a political foxhole as we worked side by side to maintain and increase the recognition of our rights in Maine.
Todd Tolhurst is a familiar name within Gun Owners of Maine, having served as our President for the vast majority of our existence, but the work he did for us went well beyond a figurehead position in a small state club.
Todd’s diligent work, and his communication skills, helped build a real grassroots force for the first time in Maine. We had reached a time where 2 or 3 organizational leaders could no longer effectively express our interests in Augusta, and he knew that the REAL power of Grassroots couldn’t be ignored.
He was right; since its inception, and under his leadership, Maine has seen a huge number of new laws that relax the binds we’d previously been under and many had accepted as “normal”. Under his leadership, we passed bills that dropped the unreasonable restrictions on some common knives, exempted binary compounds for target shooters, added protections for existing shooting ranges and even cleared up some firearms hunting laws that crossed into the target shooting field.
Perhaps his crown jewel project was dropping the necessity for a carry permit, which was long referred to as impossible. He knew it was already perfectly legal to have and carry the firearm, and it was only the addition of the jacket or sweatshirt that was in play. He was told “No one will know what to do or get training anymore” and instead of accepting such a statement to stand, Todd got together with Portland Attorney John Chapman and produced a Free, Online Video, Maine Carry class that over a thousand people have participated in to date. Todd didn’t just talk the talk, he walked the walk.
Through his leadership we were able to fight back when a Billionaire had us on his radar and pumped in millions of dollars to usurp our rights. When I told Todd that we were polling at over 60% in favor of these new laws, he didn’t skip a beat and proclaimed, “Well, it looks like we have our work cut out for us than. It will be that much sweeter when we win.” And win we did.
Todd was leading the charge right through a month ago, never having the words “We can’t” as part of his vocabulary. It was always clear to him that “We ABSOLUTELY can”, we just have to have the right message to motivate everyone to get involved.
Todd was a level headed thinker, smart beyond his admission. He always thought everything out, several moves ahead. He was a master of communication, turning an available FaceBook space into a sounding board used to communicate in a flash with over 33-Thousand like-minded grassroots patriots. He was a logical, passionate speaker who never missed an opportunity to testify on a bill, participate in a work session or even an informal meeting where we could be effective. No matter what the tools needed to most effectively communicate, be it video cameras, stickers or flash cards, T-Shirts or posters, Todd had them available in their most effective means.
Even recently, as Todd’s health as declining, he wasn’t ready to give up. While others were offering to take over duties to relieve some of his time constraints, he said “Naw, I can still do some of that. I’ll still be involved.” He never gave up.
In closing, it’s important to understand that fighting for our right to self preservation has been a pretty lonely place at times. 25-30 years ago, there were not many familiar faces at hearings and around the capitol in general.
Thanks to the family that was built here at GOME, that’s not the case anymore. When duty calls, and it’s time to show up and be heard, it’s unusual to NOT be the majority, often by a huge margin. In Todd’s absence as we move forward, which we must do, it’s my feeling that we should honor his legacy by utilizing the organization that he helped to create, to its fullest extent. We need only peek at the national news to see the danger all around us, and thanks to Todd Tolhurst, we already have the perfect vehicle to leave this big blue rock a better, safer, freer place for the next several generations.
In deep sadness, I’ll not see my friend Todd again, but his memory will live on through the positive work we do in the future. RIP my friend, your hard work will be remembered and built upon for generations to come.
Jeff W. Zimba
GOME Ballistic Evangelist
Governor Janet Mills' nominee for Commissioner of the Department of Public Safety, Michael J. Sauschuck, was approved by the Joint Standing Committee on Criminal Justice and Public Safety by a vote of 8-5, with all Republicans on the committee voting against his confirmation, and all Democrats voting in favor.
The full Senate refused to override the committee's action by a vote of 21-13, once again with all Republican present voting against confirmation, and all Democrats voting in favor.
Despite unprecedented public opposition to a nominee to head the Department of Public Safety, including thousands of calls, letters, emails and petition signatures and hundreds of individual gun owners flooding into the State House to attend the public hearing, the public outcry fell on deaf ears with too many legislators.
Mr. Sauschuck is a high-profile anti-gun activist who has used his position as Chief of the Portland Police Department to promote all manner of gun control, including banning private sales and transfers of firearms, bans on standard-capacity magazines and semiautomatic firearms, gun confiscation without due process, and so on.
While the Mills Administration maintains that Commissioner Sauschuck cannot make law, it is the role of commissioners to function as advisers to the Governor and to the Legislators on matters within their purview. Commissioner Sauschuck will be the prime adviser to the Governor and the Legislature on matters of gun control, and will direct the State Police, the biggest issuer of concealed handgun permits in the State.
Governor Mills has placed a committed anti-gun advocate at the head of Maine law enforcement, and given him a leading voice in the making of gun policy in Maine. Gun owners should be very wary.
December 19, 2018 - The Justice Department has released its final rule regarding so-called "bump stocks", classifying the devices as machine guns.
Gun Owners of Maine is very disappointed in the Administration's action in regard to bump stocks, and we believe that banning these devices through regulatory rulemaking illegally and unconstitutionally usurps the role of Congress, which has the sole power to make new law. We expect this new rule to be promptly challenged in Federal court, and to be firmly rejected.
Feb 25, 2018 - Two bills related to shooting ranges met different -- but positive -- fates in the Legislature today. LD 489, which would have empowered the Commissioner of Public Safety to allow municipalities to enact noise ordinances which could shutdown existing ranges, was withdrawn by its sponsor, Sen. Justin Chenette, and received a unanimous Ought Not To Pass report from the Criminal Justice and Public Safety Committee, which essentially killed the bill.
LD 79, a shooting range protection bill sponsored by Rep. Patrick Corey, prevents owners of adjoining properties deliberately causing existing ranges to close by erecting structures within 100 yards of the range. The committee reported this bill out as unanimous Ought To Pass, advancing it to House and Senate chambers for further votes.
The Maine Chiefs of Police Association today announced its support for Question 3, continuing its record as a reliable rubber stamp for all gun control proposals, regardless of merit. South Portland Chief Googins claimed that the background checks which Question 3 requires would keep guns out of the hands of criminals, ignoring the fact that background-checked sales are already the #1 source of crime guns, according to Federal statistics. Question 3 will do nothing to stop criminals from obtaining guns, because criminals don't mind breaking gun laws on their way to breaking much more serious laws.
What Question 3 will do is criminalize traditional activities by ordinary law-abiding Mainers, like loaning a rifle to a friend today to take hunting tomorrow. The so-called "hunting exception" is far, far narrower and more complicated than the proponents of Question 3 admit, and will result in Mainers unwittingly committing crimes. It will also strip young adults, 18 to 20 years of age, of their Constitutional right to own a handgun, among other problems.
Neither Chief Googins nor Portland Chief Sauschuck have any business weighing in on this issue using their official titles. Both suffer from a hopeless conflict of interest, as both are Board Members of a Maine gun control group. And both seem to have trouble obeying gun law themselves, having breached the confidentiality of Concealed Handgun Permit application data in 2015, in an attempt to defeat last year's Constitutional Carry bill.
Background checks are a New York solution to a problem that Maine doesn't have. We are one of the safest states in the union, with a low homicide rate which is the envy of most of the country. Our gun laws work. New York could learn from Maine; Maine has nothing to learn from New York.
Gun Owners of Maine
PO Box 5011
Augusta, ME email@example.com