By Ashley Berry, Political Science Major
On Thursday, October 15th, the only form of gun control legislation that was in place in
Maine was thrown out the window. The 15th marked the first day of Maine’s “Constitutional”
Carry law. Previously, if someone wanted to carry a concealed weapon they would have to have
a permit issued by the police. To obtain the permit, the applicant would have to go through
several steps to make sure that they would be able to conduct themselves safely while armed.
Although no test is foolproof, this acted as a filter to oust those unstable enough to carry
guns. This test consisted of a background check, fingerprinting, and proof that the applicant
passed a gun safety course. There were also six pages of questions that asked about the history of
the applicant’s criminal charges, domestic abuse, drug use and mental health disorders.
Now anyone that is over the age of 21 is able to carry a concealed and loaded weapon on
themselves anywhere that is not an exempt carry zone. This includes places like the State House,
federal courthouses, and nearly all learning institutions. This means that every time you are at the
movies, driving down the street, or at the grocery store, you can know that the person next to you
enjoying the flick or buying their milk could be “packing heat.”
There is no way that this could possibly turn out well for us Mainers. Gun violence has
started to outpace automobile accidents as the number one killer in the United States. These laws
aren’t just more lenient – it makes them practically nonexistent. Of all the policies that need to be
passed and of all the issues that need to be addressed, this was the wrong one.
Proponents of this gun law say that people who are against it are panicking for nothing.
However, there are some very real life examples of people who have been or could have been
negatively affected by these lax gun control laws.
On Tuesday, just two days before the new law would go into effect, the Portland Police
responded to the Northgate Shopping Plaza in response to a tip that someone was threatening
other shoppers with a gun. The police arrested the man who was carrying a loaded .45-caliber
handgun. Although they could find no victims, witnesses said he was pointing the gun at a car
that drove off. The weapon had also been altered with fluorescent pink paint so as to look more
like a toy gun, indicating he wanted to deceive people as to what he was carrying. It seems safe
to assume that he did this with malicious intent.
This new law is not sitting well with others besides the Portland Police Department. A
ballot initiative was submitted to the Maine Secretary of State’s Office by Judi and Wayne
Richardson on behalf of Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense and on behalf of their daughter
Darien. They would need to collect 61,000 signatures from Maine residents to get on the
November 2016 ballot. The question would ask if Maine residents would support expanding the
criminal background check requirements. The proposed initiative ensures that the purchases of
guns in private and at gun shows would have to be purchased from a registered gun dealer who
could perform a background check through the federal system.
The Richardsons are so invested in this cause because back in 2010, their 25-year-old
daughter died from a blood clot that was the result of being shot several times when her Portland
apartment was broken into by masked men. The gun that she was shot with was then used to kill
another Portland man. The shooter in the latter case refused to say where he acquired the gun,
and because it was privately transferred, no background check had to be performed. Because of
the negligent lack of gun control measures, Darien lost her life and her murderer may never be
brought to justice. Once again, because no one seems to grasp this concept, the answer to gun
violence is NEVER going to be more guns. So yes, let’s rethink this law, so murders like
Darien’s cannot get away.