On Wednesday, Governor Paul LePage of Maine signed Legislative Document 652 into law, allowing anyone over 21 to carry concealed firearms without a permit. The widely-supported bill, called a “constitutional carry” bill by its supporters, would make Maine the sixth state to enact permitless carry in the United States.

“It was a great honor to be present for the signing of my Constitutional Carry legislation into law by our Governor,” wrote Senator Eric Brakey (R-Androscoggin), the bill’s author, on Facebook. “Many Maine people have worked towards this goal for over two decades. It is wonderful to finally see this commonsense proposal enshrined in Maine law.”

Gun rights advocates have long argued that the state’s current permitting system does little to prevent crime, and only proved to be a hassle for law-abiding gun owners. The bill drew strong support from gun owners, although equally strong criticism came from gun control groups, such as Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America, and deeply divided the law enforcement community. The Maine Chiefs of Police Association opposed the bill and demanded tough compromises from lawmakers. The Maine State Police, on the other hand, endorsed the bill.

Even Governor LePage, a staunch gun rights advocate, initially stated that he would not sign the bill due to two amendments that he called a “slap in the face.” The amendments included increasing the age limit on permitless carry to 21 rather than 18, and requiring those carrying concealed guns to inform police that they are armed if they are stopped or questioned by officers.

In the end LePage was won over and did sign LD 652, a move that was praised by the NRA as a vital step forward for Maine.

“It’s encouraging to see a governor stand up for the rights of their constituents, instead of caving to the demands of an anti-gun billionaire from New York City,” said Chris Cox, executive director of the NRA Institute for Legislative Action. “On behalf of the NRA’s five million members, we would like to thank Gov. LePage, Senator Eric Brakey, and the House and Senate leadership for their work in pushing this legislation through.”

The NRA specifically compared LePage’s decision to that of New Hampshire Governor Maggie Hassan, who vetoed a similar bill in her state recently.

According to Senator Brakely, the bill will take effect 90 days after the adjournment of the legislature, which should be sometime in October.

Image from Facebook

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