Testimony of the Maine Medical Association
In Opposition to LD 1370,
An Act to Enhance Safety on College and University Campuses by Allowing Firearms To
Be Carried on the Campuses of Public Colleges and Universities
Joint Select Committee on Education & Cultural Affairs
Room 202, Cross State Office Building
Monday, May 1, 2017, 1:00 p.m.
Good afternoon Senator Langley, Representative Kornfield, and Members of the Committee on Education and Cultural Affairs, my name is Peter Michaud. I am Associate General Counsel of the Maine Medical Association (MMA) and a registered nurse licensed to practice in Maine. I am also a firearm owner. I live in Readfield, and I am testifying today in opposition to LD 1370, An Act to Enhance Safety on College and University Campuses by Allowing Firearms To Be Carried on the Campuses of Public Colleges and Universities.
The MMA is a professional association representing more than 4,000 physicians, residents, and medical students in Maine whose mission is to support Maine physicians, advance the quality of medicine in Maine, and promote the health of all Maine citizens. We represent physicians from all medical specialties, as well as public health and primary care.
It is well established by medical research that human brain development is not complete at age 18, the age of most college freshmen, or even at age 22, the age of most graduating seniors. Harvard researchers and physicians Dr. David K. Urion and Dr. Frances E. Jensen report “The brain grows and continually changes in young people, it is only about 80 percent developed in adolescents…The last section to connect is the frontal lobe, responsible for cognitive processes such as reasoning, planning, and judgment. Normally this mental merger is not completed until sometime between 25-30 years old.” This means that college students still have challenges in the areas of impulse control, management of emotions, and behavior control.
Consider, too, the nature of the college experience. During this time, when young people are away from daily contact with their parents, there is a significant amount of behavioral experimentation. Many first encounter alcohol as college students, and it will surprise no member of this Committee that many college students first drink alcohol to excess during this time. College students also experience stresses related to social issues, examinations and academic performance, and other issues.
While this bill is phrased in terms of allowing educational institutions to adopt rules and policies, its true effect is to limit significantly the extent of such rules and policies, and to expand the presence of concealed firearms on college campuses. The exceptions for dormitories and places of public entertainment do not limit large areas of a college campus, such as classrooms, libraries and dining halls.
LD 1370 allows concealed carry on campus without a permit to the extent otherwise allowed by law, specifically 25 MRSA §2001-A. We know what comes next. This session has seen the introduction of a bill, LD 44, to reduce the age for unpermitted carry from 21 to 18. While that bill was voted “ought not to pass” by a majority of the Criminal Justice and Public Safety Committee, there was a minority “ought to pass” report. That bill will return in a future session.
This issue is a matter of public safety and public health. LD 1370 is a threat to public safety and public health. We respectfully ask you to vote the bill “Ought Not to Pass.” I would be happy to respond to any questions you may have.