Maine may be the most likely state to pass constitutional carry next. The state is one of those which has has preserved open carry without government permission, though that can be said of over 60% of the states. In addition, The Pine Tree State has a quirky ‘shall issue’ permitting system that gives a little arbitrary power, in the form of a “good moral character” requirement, to local police or elected officials, if there is no police chief. The system was created in 1985, one of the earliest “shall issue” laws . . .
The loophole in the shall issue law has lead to an effective campaign to reform it by restoring the legal right to carry concealed without a permit. The earliest ban on concealed carry in Maine that I could find, was passed in 1967. That’s consistent with a peak in Second Amendment infringements that occurred while Lyndon Johnson was president.
If Maine passes constitutional carry, it would join Vermont, Alaska, Arizona, Wyoming, Arkansas, and Kansas. Mississippi recently passed a bill that has been characterized as “90% constitution carry.”
Maine came within one vote of passing constitutional carry in 2013. Majorities of both houses are signed on as sponsors of the current bill, L.D. 652 which has strong grassroots support. The governor has a record as a Second Amendment supporter.
Of course, the bill is not without opposition. Bloomberg money, in the form of ads paid for by the Bloomberg-funded groups Everytown for Gun Safety and Maine’s chapter of Moms Demand Action are having an impact. From pressherald.com:
Maine’s law enforcement community split over the issue, with Maine State Police supporting an amended version of the bill and the Maine Chiefs of Police Association actively opposing the measure. Meanwhile, the national group Everytown for Gun Safety and the Maine chapter of Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America have blanketed several of the state’s major news publication websites – including the Portland Press Herald’s – with ads urging citizens to tell legislators to oppose the bill.
The Legislature’s Criminal Justice Committee voted not to pass the bill 7-3. The Bloomberg-funded ads provided cover for a Democrat member of the criminal justice committee to vote against the bill, even though she was a co-sponsor:
The full Legislature has no obligation to adopt the committee’s majority recommendation. And with 96 of the Legislature’s 186 members listed as co-sponsors of the bill, supporters could try to pass the bill in the Republican-controlled Senate and the Democratic-controlled House. But committee testimony or pressure from constituents could prompt lawmakers to change sides on the issue. For instance, Rep. Charlotte Warren, D-Hallowell, is listed among the co-sponsors, but voted against the bill in the Criminal Justice Committee.
L.D. 652 is far from dead. The bill’s sponsor, energetic Senator Eric Brakey, R-Aubin, said that the setback was expected. The chief obstacle, of course is the Democrat-controlled House, with a Democrat majority of 80 out of 151 seats. The bill has 81 co-sponsors in the House, however. While Senator Brakey seems competent and persuasive, Michael Bloomberg’s advertising money may sway enough of the Democrat leadership to kill the bill. We’ll be watching
©2015 by Dean Weingarten: Permission to share is granted when this notice is included.