Maine Governor Paul LePage has been getting into a bit of a tussle with the state legislature, vetoing 100 bills in this session, but on Wednesday, he signed a bill making the Pine Tree State the seventh state to adopt rules following Vermont-style permitless (or “Constitutional”) carry of firearms by law-abiding citizens . . .
The bill, known as LD 652, is very simple, but will have far-reaching effects: anyone who is not otherwise prohibited by law from carrying a firearm will now be able to legally carry a firearm without the necessity of obtaining a government-issued license ahead of time.
Supporters of the bill were jubilant.
“I am pleased the governor signed constitutional carry into law today,” said the bill’s sponsor, Sen. Eric Brakey, R-Auburn. “This legislation has been a goal for Maine supporters of the Second Amendment for nearly two decades, and it is wonderful to see this commonsense measure finally enshrined in state law.”
LD 652 had a bit of a checkered history, and for a while, it appeared that Governor LePage, a Republican, might be the biggest obstacle to its passage. In June, LePage announced that he would refuse to sign the bill because the initial draft of the bill passed by the Democrat-controlled House contained a provision restricting its application to adults 21 years of age or older, which would bar people who entered military service out of high school and had fought in conflicts overseas, according to the Bangor Daily News. “I think it’s wrong to send our kids to fight wars at 18, 19, and 20, but they can’t carry [firearms] when they come home. I’m not buying into that.”
As a result, the bill contains an amendment that carves out an exception to the age requirement for those who have chosen the military as a career and are under the age of 21. Civilians between the ages of 18 and 21 must still obtain a license, which includes both a background check and training requirement.
Although I strongly support constitutional carry, and applaud the strengthening of civil rights in Maine today, this bill is not without controversy for me. I’ve gone on record as being generally opposed to these sorts of carve-outs. The idea that people who enter military service may exercise a right between the ages of 18-20 years while the same right is denied to the other citizens in their age cohort is, at lengthy consideration, a horrible one. Either people are able to exercise the duties and rights of citizens at the age of 18, or they’re not. If so, they should be allowed to exercise all of their rights at that age. If not (and there may be an argument that 18 may be too young,) then we need to have that conversation with all of the chips on the table.
Unfortunately, it seems that an unholy alliance of Republicans who will vote for anything that makes it sounds like they “support our troops!” (or soldiers/sailors/airmen/marines,) and retreating Democrats who are desperately fighting a rearguard action to keep their losses to a minimum have a tendency to compromise on the 21 year old/18 if in the military when it comes to firearms.
Am I the only one who is concerned about this? Perhaps I oughtn’t be, but my feeling is that it’s always a good idea to be skeptical of state power, whether it comes in the form of statist politicians, corrupt bureaucrats, or special privileges for members of the standing military.
DISCLAIMER: The above is an opinion piece; it is not legal advice, nor does it create an attorney-client relationship in any sense. If you need legal advice in any matter, you are strongly urged to hire and consult your own counsel. This post is entirely my own, and does not represent the positions, opinions, or strategies of my firm or clients.