Firearms Instructors for Constitutional Carry
We, the undersigned certified firearms instructors, are writing to express our support for LD 652, also known as the Constitutional Carry bill.
Firearms in the hands of good citizens prevent crime. Maine’s current Concealed Handgun Permit prevents citizens from having the means of effective self-defense by erecting multiple bureaucratic and financial barriers to the exercise of that right, including completion of an extensive application, authorizations for the release of personal information, submitting to photographs and police criminal and mental background checks, obtaining and paying for safety training, paying an application fee, and, of course, waiting -- sometimes for months on end. This lengthy, complicated and expensive process discourages many citizens from exercising their rights.
And while that alone should be good enough reason to remove those obstacles, it’s not the most important one at all. Because so many citizens are discouraged by their government from obtaining a Concealed Handgun Permit, far too many Mainers become the victims of serious crime; crime which could have been prevented had those victims had the means to defend themselves. Every assault, homicide, robbery, murder and rape which occurs is a crime which might have been stopped if the victim was armed.
Some people are concerned about the safety of Constitutional Carry. After all, without a permit system, there will be no way to filter out persons with a criminal background, or those with a history of serious mental health problems. But as the Maine State Police, the largest issuer of permits in the state, testified before the Criminal Justice and Public Safety Committee, their denial rate for permits is 0.1%. The fact is, criminals and the mentally ill who wish to carry weapons simply do so without asking anyone’s permission; they do not apply for permits. The permit system does not keep citizens safe from them -- it makes citizens defenseless from them.
There is also a concern about training. The existing permit system requires applicants to “demonstrate a knowledge of handgun safety”, usually by means of completion of a training course. As firearms instructors, there is no one who takes firearms education -- especially safety training -- more seriously than do we. Training is a central value in the firearms world, but the training requirement in the current permit system does little to promote real training. In fact, it sets such a low bar as to be counterproductive. Students often seek out the shortest, cheapest course which satisfies the law, and feel that by meeting the legal requirement, they have learned all they need to know.
Other states have considerable history with Constitutional Carry which can inform us with regard to these concerns. Our neighbor Vermont has always been a Constitutional Carry state. The states of Alaska and Arizona enacted Constitutional Carry back in 2003 and 2010, respectively. Vermont, of course, is one of the safest states in the nation, and has certainly not suffered from any problems due to lack of background checks or mandated training. Alaska and Arizona provide a good before-and-after view of Constitutional Carry, and neither state has seen any negative effect from Constitutional Carry. To the contrary, Arizona has seen across-the-board reductions in violent crime in the years since Constitutional Carry became law.
And even better, Arizona has shown that Constitutional Carry results in people obtaining more and better training voluntarily than they ever obtained when it was mandated. The values of the concealed carry culture drive training much more efficiently than government mandates do. Here in Maine, the firearms community -- gun dealers, instructors, ranges, clubs and firearms rights organizations -- would come together to ensure that gun owners have easy access to and obtain more and better-quality training than today’s law mandates.
Constitutional Carry will make Mainers safer. Failing to adopt it keeps them less safe. As qualified firearms instructors, we work hard to help people have the knowledge and the skills to keep themselves, their families and their communities safe. We urge you to help as well. Please support LD 652.