Maine legislators will soon vote on a bill that would eliminate the need to obtain a permit before carrying a loaded, hidden gun in public.

Under the current concealed-weapons permitting process, applicants are subject to a background check, must be of good moral character and demonstrate knowledge of handgun safety. Why would we want to get rid of those requirements?

It is a huge responsibility to carry a loaded gun in public. The state is sanctioning these people to be judge, jury and executioner, to make split-second decisions in the heat of the moment.

We should want these people to have as much training, both in gun safety and in the laws surrounding the use of guns, as possible.

Fewer than 4 percent of Mainers currently have a concealed-weapons permit. Who is pushing for this bill that is clearly a threat to the entire population? Those who think it is a burden to demonstrate gun safety? Those who impose their own interpretation on the Constitution?

No court has ever ruled that the permitting process is unconstitutional. The U.S. Supreme Court ruled in 2008 that “like most rights, the Second Amendment right is not unlimited. It is not a right to keep and carry any weapon whatsoever in any manner whatsoever and for whatever purpose.”

In 1990, the Maine Supreme Judicial Court found that requiring a permit did not violate an individual’s rights because the statute was “a reasonable response to the justifiable public safety concern engendered by the carrying of concealed weapons.”

Eighty-nine percent of Mainers polled want to keep the concealed-weapons permitting process as is.

Legislators should listen to the overwhelming majority of the public, not a small, albeit loud, group of gun enthusiasts who callously disregard the greater public safety.

Cathie Whittenburg

communications director, States United to Prevent Gun Violence