In Maine, people who want to carry a concealed weapon have to prove, either to local authorities or to state police, that they’re at least 18 years old, are of “good moral character,” have undergone firearm safety training and can own a gun legally.

These requirements may have an uncertain future, though, given the apparent momentum behind a bill that would allow Mainers to carry a concealed weapon without a permit. L.D. 652 would be worth considering if Maine already had far-reaching statutes in place to keep guns out of the hands of people who shouldn’t have them. But no such regulations are in effect here, making it unwise to pass a proposal that would take away even the low-level protections that Maine does have.

Introduced by Sen. Eric Brakey, R-Auburn, L.D. 652 would apply to anyone who’s not prohibited from owning a weapon on account of a criminal record or history of mental illness. But Maine hasn’t implemented safeguards that would prevent the wrong people from purchasing guns. Only licensed dealers in firearms have to check to see whether the buyer is barred from owing a weapon — meaning that an estimated 40 percent of gun sales happen without a background check.

Moreover, the concealed-weapon bill would eliminate the permitting process. So how would the state stop someone from carrying a concealed weapon if that person were a felon, or if he or she been involuntarily committed to a psychiatric facility? These people apparently would be on the honor system.

L.D. 652 is the third attempt in as many years to pass a permitless concealed-carry law in Maine, and it has widespread support. Nearly 100 legislators have signed on as co-sponsors of the bill — a reflection, the measure’s advocates say, of the strength of the constitutional right to bear arms.

But as the measure moves through the Legislature, we hope that lawmakers also consider what law enforcement officials have to say. One major voice, the Maine Chiefs of Police Association, already has come out against scuttling the permitting process. We agree, and see no reason for the state to abandon oversight of who can walk around in public with a concealed gun — unless policymakers are ready to plug the pipeline that channels those weapons to those who would misuse them.

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