PORTLAND, Maine (NEWS CENTER) - Mainers may get another chance to argue about concealed weapons permits. Last winter there was intense debate in the Legislature over whether to allow names of permit holders to be made public.
Now, two petitions are being prepared to end the use of concealed weapons permits altogether.
Portland gun rights activist Erick Bennett says concealed carry permits should be eliminated because they interfere with Mainers' right to keep and bear arms under the Constitution.
He wants anyone who is allowed to own a gun to be able to carry it. However, Portland Police Chief Michael Souschuck says the concealed carry permits are needed, and help protect both private citizens and police. Souschuck says its "ludicrous" that Maine could allow private purchase of guns without background checks and then eliminate concealed weapons permits. But Bennett says that criminals don't get concealed carry permits, and that the law only applied to "law abiding people".
The Legislature defeated a bill this session that would have eliminated the permits. Bennett says the language in his petition is based on that bill.
Republican Activist Stavros Mendros of Lewiston also has a concealed weapons permit petition. Both are hoping to gather enough signatures to put the issue on the 2014 referendum ballot.
It isn't clear yet whether both petitions will be circulated or if Bennett and Mendros will somehow join forces. Both predict strong support to change the law. Five states, including Vermont, currently do not require concealed weapons permits.