Concealed carry permits are expensive and worthless

Today’s news report, by Associated Press reporter Alanna Durkin, that Maine’s State Police are now nearly five months behind in acting on concealed weapons permit applications, ought to be enough to finally get rid of this requirement. To be accurate, the law calls them concealed carry permits.

Maine law required the permit applications to be acted on within 30 days. But no one seems to be suggesting that the Colonel of the Maine State Police be arrested for this gross violation of the law. Certainly, the legislature is culpable by failing to provide funding for this process, and for continuing to insist that concealed carry permits are somehow effective in deterring crime.

Criminals, by definition, don’t obey the laws – and they certainly don’t apply for concealed carry permits. The State Police issue permits for more than 300 small towns, while larger towns and cities issue the permits at the local level. Some city police chiefs refuse to issue permits, another violation of the law.

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

Law enforcement officers are trained to assume that everyone they approach has a concealed weapon. Yet police agencies always opposed my bill, insisting that their officers need to know who has a permit to carry a concealed weapon. They don’t know that, however, because the permit information is not in a central database and readily available to police. Nor should it be.

If you want to focus public and police scrutiny on a group of people, it ought to be the bad guys not the good guys. The permit system does absolutely nothing to deter crime and reduce violence. Worse, it may prevent some law-abiding citizens who are afraid for their lives from carrying concealed weapons, putting them in mortal danger.

Imagine yourself in this scenario. Your husband has been abusing you and your kids. In a drunken rage one night, he pulls out a gun and threatens to kill you. You calm him down and escape the situation, and then call the police.

They arrest your husband. While he is in jail, you decide to take action to protect yourself when he gets out. You know the police can never get to your home or work place in time to protect you if your husband returns with a gun.

So you take one of his small handguns, go to the shooting range with a friend for instructions and practice, and contact the State Police for a concealed carry permit. You want to have this gun with you, wherever you go, loaded and concealed, for your personal protection.

Alas, the State Police tell you that your application can’t be acted on for four to five months because there are 4,500 applications ahead of yours. By then, you and your kids may be dead.

That, my friends, is more than reason enough to repeal this worthless requirement.

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.