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Orono representative speaks on bill to ban unauthorized paramilitary training in Maine

A bill sponsored by the State Representative of District 25 (D-Orono) Laurie Osher was postponed at the end of February amid concerns from Maine House Democrats that there was not enough support to pass it. The bill in question, LD 2130, would ban unauthorized paramilitary activity by groups that are found to be intentionally causing civil disorder.

During the week prior, an initial vote saw the measure passed by just six votes. When the vote took place, 24 representatives were absent, leaving the outcome of a final vote up in the air, as a subsequent one-vote loss would kill the bill altogether.

Osher saw a need for a ban of this nature after known neo-Nazi Christopher Pohlhaus acquired land in Springfield, Maine, in early 2023 with the intent to conduct paramilitary training.

Since Osher’s bill was first introduced, Maine House Republicans have united in opposition to it, citing concerns of potential violations of the First and Second Amendments of the U.S. Constitution.

Speaking on the bill, Representative Laurel Libby of Auburn, a Republican, argued, “It asks for firearm instructors to know or assume intent to cause civil (disorder)…It is not our job to manage Maine citizens’ speech. It is our job to protect that right to free speech, whether or not we like what they’re saying.”

In an interview with the Maine Campus, Osher held that such concerns are unfounded. 

“It’s very clear that it’s a misdemeanor to gather and train others for civil disorder. So, the only way that you fall afoul of this law is if you’re gathering and training others for civil disorder,” said Osher. “Most of the Republicans that I have spoken to directly have not read the bill. They’ve only been responding to the misrepresentations of this bill.”

Osher explained her rationale for sponsoring LD 2130, stating, “All states have laws to prevent paramilitary activity. Those laws are mostly a hundred years old, and they were addressing the kind of paramilitary activities that were common one hundred years ago that were causing civil disorder, which was groups organizing and wearing uniforms that looked like military marching in formations with guns. We have two of these laws on the books in Maine.”

“Now, the people who gather and terrorize communities in Maine…they don’t march in formation, and they don’t wear uniforms that look like military uniforms, so they don’t fall under any of our existing laws,” said Osher. “My bill is in because we want to make it clear that those of us who are in Maine don’t think that this is a good place for people to come to do that kind of activity.”

Although the future of this bill remains uncertain, Osher noted that the Maine House of Representatives will hold another vote on it before the current legislative session ends.

To read the full text of LD 2130 – An Act to Prohibit Unauthorized Paramilitary Training or to check the status of this bill, visit

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