AUGUSTA — Lawmakers disposed of two bills Friday that would have loosened Maine laws that allow an adult to carry a concealed handgun without a permit.

The bills offered by Sen. Eric Brakey, R-Auburn, would have allowed someone as young as 18 to carry a concealed pistol, and removed a provision in state law requiring those carrying a gun on their person or in their vehicle to disclose that in any encounter with law enforcement.

Brakey, the chief architect of a 2015 law that did away with Maine’s permit requirement for concealed weapons for adults 21 or older, pushed the two measures, saying that because 18-year-olds are allowed to openly carry firearms in Maine, they also should be permitted to carry concealed weapons.

He said the requirement for immediate disclosure to law enforcement is vague and could force people to incriminate themselves in violation of their constitutional rights.

But a bipartisan majority on the Legislature’s Criminal Justice and Public Safety Committee disagreed, voting 11-1 against lowering the age requirement and unanimously against removing the disclosure requirement.

The “ought not to pass” recommendations will now face votes in the House and Senate.


“It just overwhelms me to think that we are looking at an opportunity to take something that is a safeguard away from law enforcement by not telling them there is a weapon in that vehicle,” said Rep. Lloyd “Skip” Herrick, R-Paris.

Herrick, a former Oxford County sheriff, pointed out that when the law removing the permit requirement was adopted, a key point to gaining support for passage was a broad agreement on the disclosure requirement.

Brakey said he was disappointed by the votes, and blamed gun control advocates.

“I was very disappointed to see so many legislators, including fellow Republicans, failing in their duty to uphold the constitutional rights of Maine people and caving to special-interest groups funded by NYC billionaire Michael Bloomberg,” he said.

Brakey’s effort to further loosen Maine’s concealed-handgun laws followed the defeat of a statewide ballot question in November that would have required federal criminal background checks for all private gun sales in Maine.

State law now requires all federally licensed firearms dealers to check buyers’ backgrounds through the National Instant Criminal Background Check System. But guns sales between private parties in Maine require no similar background checks.


Guns and their regulation are a perennial issue in the Legislature, as most studies suggest that guns are in about 50 percent of all Maine households. Because of the unregulated private market, it’s nearly impossible to determine the precise number of guns that Mainers own.

FBI data show that Maine ranked in the middle – 26th among the 50 states – for the number of names run through the National Instant Criminal Background Check System in 2015, although those figures do not include private sales.

The 94,744 background checks processed by the FBI in 2015 equaled one check for every 14 residents, compared with one check for every 1.4 residents of Kentucky (the highest) and one for every 99.5 New Jersey residents.

Also Friday, the committee endorsed a bill to allow cities and towns to ban firearms from municipal buildings or functions, including at polling places, if they pass local ordinances to do so.

Similar bills have failed in the Legislature, but lawmakers listed several cases around the state in which local officials complained about residents bringing guns to municipal meetings or polling places.

“There is a need that has been articulated even if nobody’s gotten shot,” said Rep. Lois Reckitt, D-South Portland. “I’d rather do something before that happens.”


Lawmakers said problems with guns in town offices or polling places have cropped up in Winslow, Augusta and Portland in recent years, and town officials wanted the authority to govern their buildings and functions as they see fit.

The bill, LD 351, was backed by the committee, 8-4. Rep. Patrick Corey, R-Windham, opposed the bill, saying there is little proof that gun-free zones make people any safer.

Corey said guns are already banned in public schools, where Windham voters cast their ballots. “I don’t support gun-free zones; that’s outside of what I do,” Corey said. “So I’m not going to create the ability for somebody to create a gun-free zone. I wish we had fewer of them.”

The committee unanimously endorsed a bill by Corey to prohibit government, both state and local, from creating any kind of gun registry.

The bill originally caused concern for law enforcement because inventory lists of private guns held as part of investigations or for safe-keeping could have been considered a registry. Law enforcement can also keep track of weapons that are being stored with a responsible third party, when a court requires their removal from a person’s possession as part of a protection-from-abuse order.

Corey amended his bill to a single sentence that prohibits the creation of a “comprehensive registry of privately owned firearms and the owners of those firearms.”


After the vote, Corey said he believes the language change achieves what he wanted.

“We really just didn’t want the mass aggregation of data,” Corey said. “I think that’s really all we were trying to get at.”

The committee on Friday rejected two other bills, including one that would have prohibited local police from confiscating guns under a federal order of the president, and one requiring an individual to complete firearms safety training within six months of buying a gun.

The committee also endorsed a bill to eliminate a requirement that any federally licensed gun dealer keep a state copy of the federal form that is completed when a person buys a gun. The law change would still allow local police access to the federal records but require law enforcement to first present a written request to the gun dealer.

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