AUGUSTA, Maine, June 12 (UPI) -- A bill to legalize carrying a concealed handgun without a permit in Maine was defeated in the state's House of Representatives.
The bill, LD 660, failed Tuesday by a vote of 74-73 after an hour of debate, the Lewiston Sun Journal reported Wednesday. It would have allowed anyone not prohibited from possessing a firearm to carry one concealed.
Current state law requires a government-issued permit to carry a concealed handgun. Open carrying of firearms does not require a permit, the newspaper noted.
The bill, supported by Second Amendment advocates, was authored by Republican Rep. Aaron Libby, and the vote split largely along party lines, although several Democrats voted in support of the measure.
"I can walk up and down the streets of Portland with my 9mm [handgun] on my hip and nobody can say anything to me," Libby said after the vote," but as soon as I put my jacket on, on a rainy day like this, I am now a criminal."
Libby added he and others see the requirement of a permit to carry a concealed weapon as an infringement on their rights under both the state and federal constitutions, but added the narrow defeat of the measure is an indication of a change in public perception of gun rights. Previous state efforts to remove the permit requirement have been overwhelmingly rejected.
"There's a gut check on this one when people first see it, but when people first start to actually hear the debate and actually read it and think it over, they see it," Libby said.