June 23, 2018
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Should nonresidents who are denied concealed weapons permits in other states be ineligible in Maine?

By Eric Russell, BDN Staff

AUGUSTA, Maine — New York has strict gun laws for those seeking a concealed weapons permit.

Maine, by comparison, has relatively moderate laws.

However, because of loopholes in gun laws, a resident of New York can come to Maine and apply for a nonresident concealed weapons permit. If the permit is granted, that person can bring it back to New York, where the permit often is recognized.

Maine State Police Lt. David Bowler calls this “permit shopping” and said it’s the reason the Department of Public Safety has submitted a bill that prohibits Maine from granting a nonresident concealed weapons permit to anyone who has been denied a permit in another state with equivalent or less restrictive laws.

Bowler said he believes Maine laws have a lot of safeguards to prevent questionable people from getting permits but “our concern is the one unqualified person that gets by us.”

LD 1728 was debated during a public hearing Monday before the Legislature’s Criminal Justice and Public Safety Committee.

Most who spoke were in favor of the proposed change in law.

Bill Harwood of Maine Citizens Against Handgun Violence said his group supports the measure because Maine should be careful of nonresidents who are seeking permits here.

John Pelletier, representing the Criminal Law Advisory Commission, also supported the bill.

“Residents of other states are known better by those in other states,” he said.

The National Rifle Association of America submitted written testimony in opposition to the bill.

“After careful review, I believe this legislation raises several concerns,” wrote John Hohenwarter of the NRA. “It affects law-abiding citizens, who may hold several nonresident concealed carry licenses or permits from other states, but have been denied a license or permit from their state of residence.

“For example, there have been numerous accounts of concealed carry issuing authorities refusing to issue concealed carry licenses or permits for completely arbitrary reasons — such as a parking ticket.”

Members of the Criminal Justice and Public Safety Committee are expected to vote on the bill next week.

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