This week, the Maine Senate approved a bill allowing handgun owners to carry concealed firearms without permits, according to this story from The Maine Sun Journal.
The legislation proposed by the bill, sponsored by Sen. Eric Brakey, has become known as “constitutional carry.”
Currently, a Mainer who wants to carry has to get a permit from the State Police or local officials, which comes along with a criminal background check, a mental health screening, and evidence the individual has participated in a handgun training program. The bill, titled LD 652, wouldn’t completely get rid of the state’s permitting system, which allows permit-holders to carry concealed in some other states.
Maine law also allows residents to carry firearms openly in most public places. Lawmakers supporting the bill argues that the current law does little to prevent criminals from carrying concealed weapons, and that law-abiding gun owners should not be criminalized for hiding firearms, according to the story.
Opponents worried that the measure would encourage untrained people to tuck guns into their waistbands or under their coats.
“I think if we go with a permit-less system, we are going to lose a lot of the safety aspects of concealed carry,” said State Sen. Anne Haskell, who voted against the change and added that the training courses made people seriously consider what it means to have a gun and be in the position to take a person’s life.
“Am I, as an individual, prepared to accept the personal, the legal, and the financial responsibility of an action of that sort?” she said. “Those are tough questions. Those are barriers that are not easily overcome when you are making a decision about whether you are going to conceal a weapons for your own safety. This is not Hollywood.”
Others worry the bill would allow those who couldn’t qualify for a concealed weapons permit to carry a hidden firearm.
Next, the bill heads to the state House of Representatives, 50 percent of which are co-sponsors of the bill. If the bill passes, Maine would join Alaska, Arizona, Kansas, Vermont and Wyoming in not requiring permits for concealed handguns. A similar bill in New Hampshire is waiting for action from Gov. Maggie Hassan.
Texas legislators have recently considered an open-carry law and one allowing students with concealed-carry permits to bring guns onto campus.