Constitutional carry returns to Maine this week

A popular bill signed by Gov. Paul LePage in July to allow lawful concealed carry of handguns in Maine without a permit took effect as law on Thursday.

The new law, advocating what is termed constitutional carry, allows residents who are not prohibited from possessing firearms to carry a concealed pistol or revolver while preserving the current licensing scheme to grant those who travel out of the state reciprocal rights.

“Today, something very rare has happened. One of our liberties has been restored to us,” said the sponsor of the legislation, Sen. Eric Brakey, R-Auburn, in a post to social media Thursday morning. “At midnight this morning, Constitutional Carry went into effect across the State of Maine. This means that any law-abiding citizen who can already legally carry a firearm can carry a concealed handgun without a permit.”

Brakey painted the new law as a simple expansion of open carry, which is already in effect in Maine. He contends the law makes no changes to the types of weapons that can be carried, who can carry them, or where they can be carried when compared existing statues.

“The only change taking place is HOW a handgun may be carried,” he said. “A law-abiding citizen may now put on a jacket while carrying a handgun without fear of being treated like a criminal.”

The law was opposed every step of the way by gun control advocates and some urban police chiefs, the latter of which had ominous words this week.

“This is a poor piece of legislation that we’re all about to suffer through,” said Portland Police Chief Mike Sauschuck. “This has nothing to do with jacket or no jacket as it is, this has to do with officer safety, community safety.”