Maine Governor Paul LePage has signed a “constitutional carry” bill into law, making the Pine Tree State the eighth not to require a permit to carry concealed weapons.
The new law eliminates the permit requirement for any state resident 21 years or older. Permits and background checks will still be required for anyone age 18 to 20. However, military personnel age 18 to 20 will be exempt.
“It really is a historic day in the state of Maine that this common-sense measure is finally signed into law," said state Senator Eric Brakey (R-Auburn), the Republican who sponsored it. He added,
I often get asked the question that by passing this bill will Maine become the new Wild West? Vermont has had this bill for 200 years and they are west of us. This has not been a problem for Vermont. You can open carry in Maine now. All this does is allow open carry gun owners to put a jacket on.
The Portland (Maine) Press Herald reported that, according to the Maine State Police, "36,000 concealed handgun permits, including 12,000 for non-residents, had been issued by the state. The total number of permits is likely much higher because they are also issued by local police and there is no centralized registry.”
Prior to passage of the Brakey-sponsored legislation, applicants for concealed carry permits were required to undergo a background check, pay a licensing fee, attend a gun safety course, and be judged “of good moral character.” Many citizens argued that the process was too onerous and transformed a right into a “privilege” that politicians could steadily erode with new infringements. Advocates of "constitutional carry" laws point out that the U.S. Constitution recognizes a God-given right for every individual to bear arms, and that is the only "permit" one needs.
“This is an important day for the Pine Tree State,” said Erich Pratt, director of communications for Gun Owners of America, of Governor LePage’s July 8 bill signing. “Law-abiding citizens shouldn’t have to ask permission to exercise a constitutionally protected right. We don’t require permission for preachers or journalists, and we shouldn’t do it for gun owners either.”
“There are now eight constitutional carry states that allow citizens to carry concealed firearms without a permit: Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, Kansas, Maine, Montana, Vermont and Wyoming,” Larry Pratt, executive director of Gun Owners of America, told The New American. And he notes, there are efforts underway in more than a dozen states to enact similar legislation. This movement is one of the very positive and encouraging developments regarding the Second Amendment and the right of individuals to self-defense, Pratt said.