Legislature Passes Dangerous Permitless Carry Bill Despite Opposition from Maine Police Chiefs and Vast Majority of Mainers, Gun Owners
AUGUSTA, Maine – Everytown for Gun Safety and the Maine chapter of Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America today condemned the State Legislature’s approval of LD 652, a bill that will let people carry concealed, loaded handguns in public without a permit or safety training. The House voted today to approve the legislation, despite polling showing that 84 percent of Mainers – including 83 percent of NRA households–oppose the bill.
“LD 652 eliminates an important tool that law enforcement uses to prevent dangerous people from carrying concealed, loaded weapons in public,” said Chief Bob Schwartz (Ret.), Executive Director of the Maine Chiefs of Police Association. “By passing this bill, the Maine legislature has put politics ahead of the public safety of Maine’s citizens, and the police officers who put their lives on the line every day to keep our communities safe.”
Earlier this month, the Maine Gun Owners Association announced its opposition to LD 652, citing concerns about the elimination of these basic safety training measures.
“I advise the Legislature and/or Gov. LePage to consider either not enacting the bill or amending it further to reinstate mandatory gun safety and legal education,” said Maine Gun Owners Association President Jeff Weinstein in an early June Sun Journal article. “Failure to do so may see this bill actually enabling some people needlessly getting hurt.”
Under current law, Maine residents need to have a clean criminal record and basic gun safety training in order to obtain a concealed handgun permit. If LD 652 is signed into law by Governor LePage, these public safety protections will no longer exist, making it legal for certain violent criminals and people who have never handled a gun to carry hidden, loaded handguns in public.
Everytown for Gun Safety Action Fund and Maine Moms Demand Action, which has more than 16,000 supporters in the state, previously released polling showing 84 percent of Maine voters believe people should be required to have a permit in order to carry a concealed handgun in public, as current law dictates.
The Ellsworth American and the Bangor Daily News have editorialized against LD 652, with the latter stating that, “Maine’s permit system works, although it could be quicker, and it is strongly supported by the state’s residents and law enforcement officials. It should not be tossed aside.”
Today’s final Senate passage of LD 652 came in spite of the fact that in early May, the Joint Committee on Criminal Justice and Public Safety voted 7-6 against the legislation issuing a majority report recommending that the state legislature “ought not to pass” the legislation. The bill now heads to the Governor.