LD 2130 is a well-intentioned bill seeking to improve public safety. However, the original draft could have threatened some people's First Amendment rights and the current draft would still create new criminal penalties.

LD 2130 seeks to protect Maine people from violence and intimidation in the face of rising white nationalist and neo-Nazi activity. Due to two specific concerns with the original version of this bill, the ACLU of Maine opposed LD 2130 without amendments.

First, the original and current draft would have created a new Class C crime, the third-most serious class of crimes in Maine, punishable by up to five years incarceration and a $5,000 fine. Second, the initial version of LD 2130 could have punished firearms and explosives teachers for other people's actions, even when those instructors do not know of a student's intent to use what they learn to harm others.

Lawmakers amended the bill to address our First Amendment concerns, but the current version would still create new criminal penalties.

Creating new crimes does not change people's behavior:

Criminalizing an activity does not mean people will stop doing that activity. Our leaders must examine the root causes of why people take certain actions, rather than continuing – and failing – to punish people out of certain activities.

Every three seconds, a person is arrested in this country. According to the FBI, of the 10.3 million arrests each year, only 5 percent are for offenses involving violence. Popular culture teaches that people accused of crimes are violent and dangerous, but most arrested each year are accused of minor infractions. More than 75% of Maine’s arrests every year are for misdemeanors.

Moreover, the system disproportionately arrests and punishes people of color. For example, while only 1.6 percent of Maine’s population is Black, Black people make up 5 percent of all arrests and more than 10 percent of those in Maine’s prisons. This disproportionality increases as the class of crime increases, so that Black people are more likely to be arrested for felonies (Class C, B and A crimes) than white people.

Creating new crimes would only increase incarceration rates in Maine while continuing to ignore the root causes of certain behaviors.

First Amendment concerns:

LD 2130, in its original form, could have criminalized legally operating firearm or explosives teachers if the instructor “knows or reasonably should know that the teaching, training or demonstrating is intended to be used in or in furtherance of civil disorder.” As written, the teacher would have an obligation to guess why someone is in their class, attending their lecture, or reading their “guide to firearms.” 

To better comply with the First Amendment, we recommend lawmakers remove the “knows or reasonably should know” requirement and replace it with a requirement that the teacher intends the information to be used in an unlawful way or “with intent to cause or further civil disorder." Requiring firearms and explosives teachers to guess at their students’ intent risks ensnaring innocent people.

Bill Movement:

This bill originated in 2024 during the Second Regular Session of the 131st Legislature.

  1. Bill printed: 1/3/2024
  2. Referred to Joint Standing Committee on Criminal Justice and Public Safety: 1/9/2024
  3. Public hearing in committee: 1/29/2024
  4. Work session and vote in committee: 2/7/2024 (DIVIDED REPORT)
    • Ought to pass as amended: 7
    • Ought not to pass: 6
  5. House vote: 2/21/2024 (PASSED)
    • Yes: 66

    • No: 60

    • Absent: 24

    • Excused: 0

  6. Senate vote: 2/22/2024 (PASSED)
    • Yes: 18
    • No: 14
    • Absent: 0
    • Excused: 3
  7. Action by governor: N/A


Representative Laurie Osher




The Second Regular Session of the 131st Legislature

Bill number


Needs amendments

ACLU of Maine Policy Counsel Michael Kebede delivered testimony to the Joint Standing Committee on Justice and Public Safety on January 29, 2024, during the Second Regular Session of the 131st Legislature.