A new gun law that goes into effect Thursday will make Maine a more dangerous place.

Now, no one needs to meet even the very lax requirements required for a concealed-carry permit, which asked only that Maine residents show proficiency with a handgun and be of good moral character.

Now, almost any adult can go out in public carrying a loaded gun, making it likely that there will be more armed people coming into conflict than we have ever seen before.

“This will make our jobs more difficult,” Portland Police Chief Michael Sauschuck told the Portland Press Herald. “I think this law was misguided. We continue to go the wrong way on gun legislation.”

Proponents of the new law predictably crowed that permitless carry would reduce crime because there would be more “good guys” with guns on the street to protect us from “bad guys” — as if life were just a big game of cops and robbers.

Sauschuck and other public safety officials are right to be concerned about shoot-outs between perceived “bad guys” and self-appointed “good guys” who may or may not know how to shoot straight.

But even without pitched battles, the presence of more guns in more places will make Maine a more dangerous place.

One of the biggest risks is suicide, the 10th leading cause of death in the nation.

Firearms are by far the most common method people use to kill themselves, and self-inflicted wounds are responsible for more than half of the gun deaths each year.

White males made up 70 percent of all suicides in the United States in 2013, according to the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, and victims were most likely to be between the ages of 45 and 64. That describes Maine’s demographics fairly well.

Also, according to the foundation, states with fewer gun laws have higher suicide rates, the leaders being Montana, Alaska, Utah and Wyoming. The locales with the lowest suicide rates are Washington, D.C., New Jersey, New York, Massachusetts and Connecticut, all states with stricter gun laws.

It is reasonable to conclude that where there are looser gun laws, there are more guns around, and where there are more guns, there are more suicides. There are also hundreds of accidental gun deaths every year, often involving children.

Sauschuck is right: From a public safety standpoint, we are moving in the wrong direction.

The childish rhetoric of “good guys” and “bad guys” doesn’t reflect the real risks Maine is exposing itself to with this new law.

Who is the good guy in a suicide? Who is a bad guy? Who is really safer?

Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or to participate in the conversation. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.

filed under: