A new law has been passed in the state of Maine that allows gun owners to carry handguns without having a permit.
The law pertains to people at least 21 years of age, and members of the military and veterans who are at least 18 years of age. People can also have a loaded handgun while in a motor vehicle.
“When you put in something like a permit requirement, if your goal is to prevent criminals from carrying firearms with intent to harm other people, the permit requirement isn’t going to stop them,” Maine State Representative Eric Brakey, R-Auburn, a sponsor of the law said.
Brakey also cited a study done on gun-related incidents as part of the decision to sponsor the bill.
“There was a study done between 2009 and 2014 where it was found that 25 mass tragedies occurred in the country, and 92 percent of them took place in gun free zones,” Brakey said. “Law abiding citizens were unarmed and could not defend themselves.”
Maine becomes the fifth state to pass this “constitutional carry” law, coming after Alaska, Arizona, Wyoming and Kansas. Previously, if someone wanted to carry a handgun, that person would be required to comply with multiple conditions including fingerprinting, proof of gun safety course, criminal history, background check and a $35 fee.
Maine State Representative Adam Goode, D-Bangor, who voted against the bill said, that this process was a key component of the history of gun safety in Maine.
“Mainers have a long, rich tradition of responsible gun ownership while also having the lowest crime rate in the United States,” Goode said. “While working on the bill, we heard from a member of law enforcement concerned that they would be put in a position where they would not know if someone they officially stop is carrying a concealed weapon. I believe that a permit process improves public safety in a responsible manner.”
Frank Spizuoco, owner of Maine Military Supply in Holden says, “Maine firearm owners have always been allowed to carry a handgun without a permit. Constitutional carry allows people to now cover that same firearm with a coat or jacket.”
All guns continue to be banned from many places including courthouses, public schools, state parks, federal buildings, private property, the State Capitol and anywhere that has a “no firearms” sign. It is also illegal to bring a gun into a bar, regardless if the person has a permit, because of the risk of being under the influence.
University of Maine Police Department (UMPD) requires all guns brought onto campus to be stored at their headquarters on Rangeley Road. They also have published a firearms code on the UMaine website, with the first item being “no weapon or ammunition shall be worn, displayed, used, or possessed on campus.”
“The new law changes nothing here,” UMPD detective Keith Mercier said. “Since we’re a public university, we can have our own firearms code.”
Two other weapons-related laws have been passed in the state. A ban was lifted on switchblade and butterfly knives, and the other law allows hunters to use suppressors on rifles. The latter requires a permit obtained by a $12 fee and a background check.