- Associated Press - Wednesday, April 8, 2015

AUGUSTA, Maine (AP) - Dozens of gun-rights activists and gun-control advocates packed the halls of the Maine Statehouse on Wednesday as lawmakers began considering a proposal to eliminate the requirement that people have a permit in order to carry a concealed firearm. If approved, Maine would become the sixth state to adopt such a law, according to the National Rifle Association.

Here’s what you need to know about Republican Sen. Eric Brakey’s bill:

___

Q: Who’s supporting it and what’s their case?

A: Supporters, which include the Sportsman’s Alliance of Maine and National Association for Gun Rights, say it doesn’t make sense that people don’t need a permit as long as their firearm is visible but are required to have one once they put that gun under a jacket. “The moment you put on that jacket you are now an instant criminal…. unless you have a permit from the government giving you permission to wear that jacket,” Brakey told the Criminal Justice and Public Safety Committee Wednesday.

Maine State Police is also backing the bill. Maj. Chris Grotton said the current permit system is broken and he believes resources would be better spent tracking down those who shouldn’t have guns instead of regulating those who are complying with the law.

___

Q: What do opponents say?

A: Among those fiercely opposing the proposal are Maine Sherriff’s Association and Maine Citizens Against Handgun Violence. They say ensuring people who want to conceal a weapon have completed a gun safety training course and aren’t criminals is common sense and doesn’t infringe on the rights of responsible gun owners.

Portland Police Chief Michael Sauschuck told lawmakers that removing the permit requirement will put the safety of officers and the public at risk. He also rejected the argument that permits aren’t necessary because people who want to do something bad with a gun aren’t going to follow the rules anyway. “If that was the threshold for making laws and regulations, we wouldn’t have any laws and regulations,” he said. “We’re just going to say, ‘They’re not going to follow it anyway, why would we have speed limits?’”

___

Q: How many people currently hold a concealed handgun permit in Maine?

A: The state doesn’t track the total number of people who hold permits because there is no single issuing authority and no centralized database. Roughly 36,000 people currently hold concealed handgun permits issued by Maine State Police, but local municipalities also have the power to issue permits. Grotton said that State Police have denied less than 1/10 of a 1 percent of the applications it has processed over the last four years.

__

Q: Does the bill have a chance?

A: Similar measures have been defeated in the Legislature in the past, but this proposal appears to have broad support with nearly 100 lawmakers signed on as co-sponsors, including members of leadership in both parties.

A spokeswoman for Republican Gov. Paul LePage declined to comment Wednesday. But LePage, who has a concealed handgun permit, is a strong supporter of gun rights. When vetoing another gun bill in 2013, LePage said the state should be working to make it easier for law-abiding citizens to carry concealed handguns, saying “studies now confirm that where there are more concealed handguns, there is less violent crime.”

___

Follow Alanna Durkin at http://www.twitter.com/aedurkin

LOAD COMMENTS ()

 

Click to Read More

Click to Hide