June 13, 2013

Hidden-gun change alive despite defeat

A bill to stop requiring carry permits fails in the House by a single vote, indicating it still has a chance as the Senate weighs in.

By Tom Bell tbell@pressherald.com
Staff Writer

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He said the current system is broken; applicants must wait 150 days to 180 days for approval. And because more than 200 police and government agencies are authorized to approve permits, police can’t determine with any certainty whether any specific individual has a permit.   

But Michael Tracy, the police chief in Oakland and president of the Maine Chiefs of Police Association, said in a letter to the Legislature that the bill would put Maine citizens at risk by eliminating “every trace of control” over who can carry a concealed handgun.   

Rep. Janice Cooper, D-Yarmouth, said that allowing anyone to walk around with a gun in their pocket would create more anxiety. “I believe this would create a climate of fear much greater than we would want to live with,” she said.   

Every Republican except Rep. Amy Volk of Scarborough supported the bill. Sixteen Democrats, most of them representing rural districts, voted for the bill.   

Volk said many of her constituents in the Portland suburb told her they want tougher gun laws in Maine, not more lenient laws.   

Although several states have passed stricter gun laws in response to December’s mass shootings in Newtown, Conn., the Maine Legislature has passed no gun control legislation in this session.   

Dion, who co-chairs the Criminal Justice and Public Safety Committee, said the current system for issuing concealed-weapons permits is flawed, but it would be better to fix the system than get rid of it. Doing so would put citizens and police at risk, he said.   

Tom Bell can be contacted at 274-0787 or at: tbell@pressherald.com   

Twitter: TomBellPortland

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