June 12, 2013

Senate votes down bill eliminating concealed carry permit

By Tom Bell
Staff Writer

The Maine Senate on Wednesday voted down a bill that would have removed the requirement for a permit to carry a concealed gun.

The 21-14 vote effectively kills L.D. 660, which the House on Tuesday defeated by a one-vote margin.

Only one Republican, Sen. Roger Katz of Augusta voted against the measure, joining all the Democrats and Dick Woodbury, an independent from Yarmouth.

Sen. Stan Gerzofsky, D-Brunswick, the Senate chair of the Criminal Justice and Public Safety Committee, said that Maine has required a concealed weapon permit for nearly a century, and that the law has proven to be effective.

“I don’t see a problem, but now we want to create a problem and do away with the process,” he said.

The permit requirement, however, never should have been established in the first place, said Sen. David Burns, R-Whiting, a former state trooper. He noted that Maine residents have been sending lawmakers thousands of emails in support of the measure. Gun rights activists say that requiring a permit to carry a concealed gun infringes on their Second Amendment rights.

“You see so much support ... coming to you either from this body or coming to you from your constituents to support this constitutional right that never should have been abridged in the first place,” Burns said.

Maine law currently allows people to carry a gun without a permit as long as the gun remains visible. To carry a weapon hidden from view, however, they need to apply for a concealed-weapon permit from local or state authorities .

Applicants must show they have “good moral character” and answer more than 30 questions, most of which relate to their adult and juvenile criminal history and whether they have a mental disorder or a drug habit.

Since 2003, four states -- Alaska, Arizona, Wyoming and Vermont -- have passed similar measures, known as “constitutional carry.  In addition, the Arkansas Legislature recently passed legislation eliminating  the need for a permit. That measure will become law in July.

Michael Shepherd contributed to this story.


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