In 1986, only 8 states had a ‘shall issue’ permits for citizens to conceal carry weapons in public. Twenty-five states had a ‘may issue’ status for conceal carry permits and 16 states refused to issue permits for or allow carrying of concealed weapons. At the time, only Vermont had no restrictions on carrying concealed weapons in public.
‘Shall issue’ means that the state requires the applicant to have a license to carry concealed weapons based upon the criteria established by the state. Most of these states criteria include a minimum age, background check, fingerprinting, residency, paying fees, successfully completely a firearms training class and proving proficiency with their handgun. Once all of the criteria is met, the state or proper agency shall issue a conceal carry license.
‘May issue’ means that permit is required to carry a concealed weapon after meeting certain criteria. However, unlike the shall issue states, once a person qualifies, it is still left up to the agency, generally local law enforcement, as to whether or not they will issue the permit. The ‘may issue’ could be more properly referred to as ‘discretionary issue.’
Since 1986, liberals have waged an intense war against all firearms; including the right to carry conceal weapons. However, one by one, the number of states refusing to issue conceal carry permits began to decrease until 2013 when only 1 state continued to refuse to issue the permits.
Illinois, political home of Barack Obama, fought all efforts from gun advocates pushing to create a conceal carry permit system. A lawsuit was filed by gun advocates challenging the constitutionality of Illinois law. The case made it all the way to the Supreme Court. The high court ruled that the Illinois law was unconstitutional and gave them a deadline of July 9, 2013 to draft and pass laws to allow conceal carry in the state.
Currently, 35 states are ‘shall issue’ and 8 are ‘may issue’ conceal carry permits with no states refusing to issue permits for or restrict the carrying of concealed weapons. The number of states that allow conceal carry weapons without the need for a permit has grown from 1 state in 1986 to 7 states with Maine being the latest.
As of last Thursday, Maine residents and non-residents ages 21 and older are allowed to carry a concealed weapon in the state. This includes keeping a loaded handgun in a motor vehicle. Active and honorably discharged military personnel ages 18-20 are also legally allowed to carry a concealed weapon in Maine.
Exceptions are those who have been declared ineligible to carry any kind of firearm such as convicted felons and people with certain mental issues.
Prior to Thursday, anyone wishing to carry a concealed weapon in Maine had to apply for a police issued permit which involved filling out a 6 page application, paying a $35 fee, undergo a background check and fingerprinting and successfully pass a firearm safety class.
Opponents of the new law believe that this will only lead to an increase in crime. Mike Sauschuck, Portland Police Chief stated:
“This is a poor piece of legislation that we’re all about to suffer through.”
Proponents of the law disagree and believe it will lead to less crime and citizens being able to protect themselves, their families, homes and others. Jeff Zimba, a firearms safety instructor and firearms policy consultant disagrees with Sauschuck, saying:
“People think all of a sudden it’s going to be the wild, Wild West. We’re finding just the opposite — people are signing up for safety courses. They want more education. They’re all saying doomsday, but we’re seeing just the opposite.”
I believe if all states allowed citizens to carry concealed weapons without a permit and do away with gun free zones that we would see fewer mass and school shootings and gun related crimes. The more armed people there are walking around the less likely someone is going to try to do something stupid. That’s why they usually target gun free areas to carry out their attacks. If they knew that one or more people at a school, theater, church, mall, store, etc. are armed and ready to take them on. They’ll think twice about carrying out their murderous ambitions. Chances are they’ll still find a way to make themselves famous by turning to bombs (which are already illegal) or who knows what.
I say hurray for Maine and urge the other 43 states to follow suit and allow Americans to defend themselves as is their constitutional right!