Maine Senator Eric Brakey has introduced a Bill to the legislature that would make Maine a Constitutional Carry State. The idea behind this measure is an idea I support. Still, this bill must be approached carefully as to avoid unintended consequences, specifically in the area of reciprocity.
To date, Maine is an Open Carry State. This means a resident of Maine may carry a firearm exposed on their person without a permit. A resident may not carry a concealed firearm in this State without a permit. Senator Brakey’s bill would eliminate the need for a permit to conceal a firearm in the State of Maine.
Reciprocity is a political and legal term, which refers to process to where States honor, uphold, and enforce laws from other States within their sovereign borders. For gun owners, it means that possessing a concealed weapons permit in Maine also means that they can carry a concealed weapon in a State that reciprocates, or honors that permit. Therein lies the rub for gun owners in the State of Maine.
If Maine simply changes to a Constitutional Carry State, legislators may unwittingly nullify reciprocity for the many concealed weapon permit holders in Maine, who use their permits in their travels to other States. This makes them vulnerable to prosecution now in States that do not reciprocate Constitutional Carry in their borders. Hopefully, Senator Brakey has addressed this in his legislation.
If not, there is a simple solution. Amend the bill so it continues to allow for the Concealed Weapon process should the resident choose to apply, thereby maintaining reciprocity with those States that honor the permit. Clearly stipulate in the language that Constitutional Carry applies only to the borders of the State of Maine and its residents by their choice.
Common Sense dictates that not all States will agree with our stance on Constitutional Carry. With John Cornyn of Texas proposing legislation that will standardize reciprocity for concealed weapon permits for all 50 States, it is important that we maintain a pathway that allows Maine residents to provide for their personal defense wherever they may travel. A measured and thoughtful approach, as always, will yield the best solution for the people of Maine. Let’s Set Maine Free!