Posted by Curt on 10 July, 2015 at 10:33 am. 1 comment.


Charles C. W. Cooke:

Maine is to become the seventh state in the union to nix its firearms-permitting requirements in toto. Johannes Paulsen with the story:

Maine Governor Paul LePage has been getting into a bit of a tussle with the state legislature, vetoing 100 bills in this session, but on Wednesday, he signed a bill making the Pine Tree State the seventh state to adopt rules following Vermont-style permitless (or “Constitutional”) carry of firearms by law-abiding citizens . . .

The bill, known as LD 652, is very simple, but will have far-reaching effects: anyone who is not otherwise prohibited by law from carrying a firearm will now be able to legally carry a firearm without the necessity of obtaining a government-issued license ahead of time.

On the face of it, this development should be a rather surprising one. As we are often reminded, Governor LePage is a “severe” conservative in a state that does not typically elect such figures, and this is precisely the sort of “severely” conservative law that New Englanders are presumed to oppose. Certainly, the odds of passage looked slim. At present, Maine’s Senate has a slim 20-15 Republican majority, while its House is run by Democrats. A majority of local police groups were against the measure, as were the lion’s share of local newspapers, the state’s Criminal Justice Committee, and the usual suspects from outside. For their part, Everytown for Gun Safety and Moms Demand Action “blanketed” the state with negative ads.

Despite all of this, the measure passed on a strong bipartisan vote — and in both legislative chambers. What gives?

That the state is generally free of crime cannot have hurt. According to the Portland Press, FBI statistics reveal Maine to have been “the second-safest state in the nation in 2013,” with “only Vermont” having seen “fewer violent crimes per capita.” Nor can it be ignored that, in practice, this alteration is a minor one. Maine already allows its residents to carry a firearm openly without a permit, which meant that the debate over the new measure effectively centered around whether residents should be punished for putting on a coat — a difficult case to make in the affirmative.

Ultimately, though, this was yet another reminder that gun politics in America do not conform to the usual regional and ideological templates. In becoming a “constitutional carry” state, Mainers join not a host of oh-so-Dixie Southerners but a surprisingly diverse set of jurisdictions that includes Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, Kansas, Wyoming, and Vermont. Or, put another way, Maine becomes the second New England state in a club that boasts just one Southern state, one Southwestern state, one Midwestern state, one mountain-region state, and one . . . well one whatever-Alaska-is state.

To try to determine a pattern by looking at this group is futile. Republican-heavy Texas, which is incorrectly imagined to be a Second Amendment–advocate’s dream locale, only last month got around to legalizing the open carrying of handguns — thereby becoming not the first but the 46th state in the union so to do. By contrast, Massachusetts-neighboring New Hampshire is being held back from full-scale Vermont-style liberalization only by its Democratic governor. Indeed, had Governor Maggie Hassan not vetoed the permit-abolition bill that was comfortably passed by both the House and Senate this year, New England would have become far and away the most “constitutional-carry”-friendly region in these United States. Bottom line: These things don’t always go as you’d imagine they would.

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