Finally! Concealed Carry Permits Getting Attention.

Well, I’m sure the Bangor Daily News didn’t intend to provoke an ugly statewide debate on concealed weapons permits, but I’m sort of glad this has happened – because we’ve needed action on concealed permits for a long time.

To be accurate, we’re talking about concealed carry permits. That is what they are called in the law.

I’m sure I don’t need to tell you that the BDN has requested the names, addresses, and birth dates of all concealed permit holders. And that this has caused consternation at the Capitol and all over the state.

Unfortunately, the debate is about the wrong issue. While I can’t defend the BDN’s request, the legislature has been given many opportunities to protect those permit holders, and has consistently failed to do so.

For years I tried to convince legislators to repeal the law requiring permits to carry weapons in a concealed manner. The concealed carry permit system is illogical, expensive, and a waste of time and resources.

Only law-abiding citizens apply for these permits. A guy going in to rob a pharmacy is not going to pause and think, “Well, I’ll have to carry my gun in the open because I don’t have a concealed permit.”

Police agencies always opposed my bill, insisting that their officers need to know who is carrying concealed weapons. But they also always admitted that they are trained to assume that every person they approach has a concealed weapon!

And they don’t know who has a permit to carry a concealed weapon anyway, because that information is not in a central databank and readily available to police officers.

Well, maybe now it will be in the BDN databank!

The BDN may have only the best of intentions. The paper issued a strongly worded statement that publication of the names and addresses would be wrong, and promised not to do that.

And the legislature left those names in the public domain, available to anyone who asked for them. Without doubt, this places those permit holders in jeopardy.

If the end result is legislative action that eliminates the concealed carry permit requirement, the BDN will deserve our thanks.

George Smith

About George Smith

George stepped down at the end of 2010 after 18 years as the executive director of the Sportsman’s Alliance of Maine to write full time. He writes a weekly editorial page column in the Kennebec Journal and Waterville Morning Sentinel, a weekly travel column in those same newspapers (with his wife Linda), monthly columns in The Maine Sportsman magazine, two outdoor news blogs (one on his website, georgesmithmaine.com, and one on the website of the Bangor Daily News), and special columns for many publications and newsletters. George also hosts, with Harry Vanderweide, a TV talk show called Wildfire, now in its 13th year and focused on hunting, fishing, environmental, and conservation issues. The show is owned and produced by Maine Audubon and seen on its website as well as on the Time Warner cable TV station throughout the state.