One of the most consequential laws passed earlier this year by the 127th Maine Legislature went into effect on October 15. Sponsored by republican state Senator Eric Brakey of Auburn, the new law allows legal gun owners over 21 years of age, or current military members aged 18 or older, to carry concealed firearms without requiring permits issued by the police.
In adopting this law, Maine joins the ranks of eight other states, including Alaska, Arizona, Kansas, Vermont and Wyoming, all which do not require people to obtain a police-issued permit before carrying a concealed firearm.
Sen. Brakey’s law is often referred to as constitutional concealed carry, and he says he is proud to have sponsored the law because he feels it was unnecessary to require police permits for law-abiding citizens. “A criminal is not going to get a permit. He is going to break the law,” Brakey said, arguing that the requirement to obtain permits provides a false sense of security for those who don’t wish to break the law. Supported by both the Maine State Police and Governor Paul LePage, the law has streamlined the process for legal gun owners in Maine to carry concealed weapons where they are permitted.However, it’s important to note that the Maine law still prohibits firearms–concealed or not–in firearm-free zones, which include federal buildings, courthouses, and public schools. Additionally, those aged 18 to 20 years old, but are not affiliated with the military, may still carry a concealed firearm, but only with a police-issued permit.
While some critics of the new law have predicted increased gun violence as a result of its implementation, according to FBI statistics released in 2013, Vermont had the lowest crime rate in the country, despite the state allowing residents to carry concealed firearms without permits. Wyoming and Montana, which have both adopted concealed carry without permit laws, are also among the top 10 states with the lowest crime rates. Maine has the second lowest crime rate in the country, with some of the lowest rates of aggravated assault and motor vehicle theft and approximately 121.6 violent crimes per 100,000.
Despite concerns about the removal of a safety course requirement, gun safety instructors have found that with the new freedom to exercise constitutional concealed carry, firearm owners are actually seeking more education about their weapons than ever. Gun owners are signing up for safety courses, educating themselves on their weapons as well as the situations which call for their use.
For supporters of gun rights in America, October 15, 2015 was a monumental day for Maine State Law, and Maine’s gun owners now have greater freedom – and greater responsibility – when carrying their firearms.