Maine residents will no longer require a permit to concealed-carry starting Oct. 15. Passed in June by the state House and Senate, the new law will allow gun owners who are 21 and older to conceal their firearms without needing a police-issued permit.Gun rights advocates often refer to this policy as Constitutional Concealed Carry.
Maine will be joining Alaska, Arizona, Kansas, Vermont and Wyoming as the sixth U.S. state that does not require a permit to concealed-carry, reports Portland Press Herald. Active military and veterans only need to be 18 and older for the new law to apply to them, according to Bangor Daily News.
Gun owners are still not allowed to bring their firearms into gun-free zones such as courthouses, public schools, state parks and private property. Furthermore, possessing a gun in a bar while you are intoxicated is still illegal, Bangor Daily News reports.
The new law is proving controversial, sharply dividing Maine residents.
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“I’ve heard from people who love it and people who have concerns,” Republican state Sen. Eric Brakey of Auburn, who sponsored the bill, tells the Portland Press Herald. “But even those with concerns I’ve been able to talk to and explain what this does.”
One concerned citizen is Portland Police Chief, Michael Sauschuck, who tells the Portland Press Herald that “this will make our jobs more difficult. I think this law was misguided. We continue to go the wrong way on gun legislation.”
Before the June legislation, gun owners could only concealed-carry if they attained a special permit by submitting to a background check, fingerprints, lengthy interviews about their criminal history, domestic violence investigations, taking part in a gun safety course and paying a $35 fee, Bangor Daily News reports.
“I really wish they hadn’t removed the permit,” a retired Old Town police officer, Dusty Rhodes, tells Bangor Daily News. “It required a background check, a mental health check, you had to show proficiency, you had to submit fingerprints. You had some count on who is carrying.”
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Gun advocates argue that this new law will not plunge Maine into chaos. Jeff Zimba, a firearms consultant and gun safety instructor who testified in support of the new law, tells Bangor Daily News that citizens should not worry.
“People think all of a sudden it’s going to be the Wild, Wild West,” says Zimba. “We’re finding just the opposite — people are signing up for safety courses. They want more education. They’re all saying doomsday, but we’re seeing just the opposite.”
Gun shop owners claim that, since the legislation’s passing, sales for small, easy-to-conceal pistols have skyrocketed, Bangor Daily News reports.