On Wednesday, Maine Governor Paul LePage signed Legislative Document 652 into law, a bill that removes the requirement that lawful gun owners age 21 and up first obtain a permit before carrying a concealed firearm. The bill also allows veterans and active-duty military members to carry concealed without a permit starting at 18 years of age.
“This bill authorizes a person who is not prohibited from possessing a firearm to carry a concealed handgun without a permit. This bill also authorizes a person to possess a loaded pistol or revolver while in a motor vehicle or a trailer or other vehicle being hauled by a motor vehicle,” read the bill’s legislative summary.
Bearing Arms notes that Maine, which is already an open carry state, now joins five other states in allowing “constitutional carry,” a phrase describing a legal environment in which citizens retain their Second Amendment right to carry a concealed firearm without being required to apply for a permit. Arizona, Alaska, Arkansas, Kansas, and Vermont are the other five states that allow the practice. Wyoming allows a lesser form of constitutional carry that only applies to state residents.
WCSH-TV notes that law enforcement agencies were split in their opinions on the bill, as Maine’s State Police offered their support for LD 652’s passage, whereas the Maine Chiefs of Police Association spoke out against it.
The Maine chapter of the anti-gun group Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America issued a statement condemning the passage of the bill and claiming that it makes “it legal for certain violent criminals and people who have never handled a gun to carry hidden, loaded handguns in public.” However, the new law does not allow the possession of firearms by individuals such as violent felons who have had their Second Amendment rights stripped through due process.
According to Reuters, the new law will take effect 90 days after the adjournment of the state’s legislature, which is expected to happen in mid-July.
“It’s encouraging to see a governor stand up for the rights of their constituents, instead of caving to the demands of anti-gun billionaire [Michael Bloomberg] from New York City. On behalf of the NRA’s five million members, we would like to thank Gov. LePage, Senator Eric Brakey, and the House and Senate leadership for their work in pushing this legislation through,” said Chris Cox, executive director of the National Rifle Association’s Institute for Legislative Action. WMTW-TV notes that groups funded by former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg ran ads opposing the passage of LD 652.
Maine’s concealed carry permit process, which requires a licensing fee, gun safety test, criminal background check, and an assessment of the citizen’s moral character, will remain in place for those traveling residents who want to take advantage of Maine’s concealed carry permit reciprocity agreements with other states.