Constitutional Carry In Maine
Maine, like most other states (five states don’t require permits and one state does not currently allow carrying weapons at all*), requires a person wanting to carry a concealed weapon to apply for and receive a permit to carry a concealed firearm. In general I’m not opposed to the process, but it does beg a couple of questions:
1. What stops someone without a permit from carrying concealed? Nothing. It’s like a drivers license, nothing stops you from driving without a license. You no more need a concealed weapons permit to buy guns then you need a drivers license to buy a car. Which leads to another question.
2. Why have concealed carry permits at all? It’s a good question. Its always been legal in the state of Maine and most other places to carry a firearm openly, so there is a good point to be made regarding what exactly changes when you put your jacket over top of it or sit down in a car.
Lets be clear, I don’t think that permits really serve any purpose. Since you can carry openly, and people often do, we know what would happen if there were no requirements to carry concealed, pretty much nothing. It’s even more clear if you look at Vermont, Alaska, Arizona, Wyoming and Arkansas that there is no problem with not issuing permits and making concealed carry legal for anyone who can legally own a firearm. It seems a little strange, but you have to remember, that while claims like, “bad guys will still get guns no matter what”, are pretty weak, we are not talking about preventing anyone from getting a gun, we are talking about how people who already have them can carry them.
I had the opportunity to talk with two Maine State Troopers regarding this earlier today and it was one of them who pointed that out to me. If we have failed to prevent Joe Felony from getting a gun, concealed/open carry laws are entirely worthless in preventing him from doing exactly what he wants to do with it. He is exactly right. Its just as true when we look at the places where carrying of firearms is prohibited, if you can’t keep people from getting the gun in the first place, it doesn’t make a difference where you say they can’t take it.
So I’m all for getting rid of permits. The time and money spent issuing permits and doing background checks appears pretty much worthless. The standards to get a carry permit are much more strict than they are to buy a gun, and if the troopers can be trusted, less than 1/100 of 1% of permits are denied, making it a process with little utility, just refer back to question 1 if you don’t think so. Those who don’t qualify, don’t bother trying, and why would they? Since nothing stops them from carrying and any crime they are like to commit is much more severe than the firearms charge would be, it stands to reason that the main effect of permits is to lighten my wallet, and those of others like me, by $20 every four years.
Frankly, it would make more sense to require a permit for open carry and make concealed carry mandatory. I won’t go into why I think that right now, I’ll save it for another post, but suffice it to say that carrying openly has concerns that don’t apply to carrying concealed.
Is it unconstitutional to require permits? Probably not. Is it a waste of resources that could be better spent? Almost certainly yes. Would we all be safer if the requirement for a permit was discarded? Maybe not, but the bulk of the evidence suggests we wouldn’t be any less safe. Every single apocalyptic prophecy foretelling the parade of horrible things that would happen if concealed carry were allowed in any form have failed to come to pass.
*Illinois bars the carrying of firearms almost universally, hunting being the exception. It plainly does nothing for their crime rate and in any event, the state has been ordered to enact a means by which citizens may carry firearms outside the home by early June, when the court order striking down the current laws prohibiting carry will go into effect. Essentially that would make Illinois the sixth state to have “constitutional carry”. If it happens, I expect no problems. Once a criminal gets a gun, the law can do little to prevent him/her from carrying it.