Concealed carry permits test patience of Maine gun owners

Daryn Slover/Sun Journal

Handgun and rifle sales are up at G3 Firearms in Turner, owner Chris Jordan said. "The phone started ringing 20 minutes before the shop opened and within 40 minutes, we were looking for seven different guns that I don't have in the shop," Jordan said. He walked away from a $50,000 a year job as a boiler operator to open G3 Firearms, which he named after his kids: Gage, Gracie and Gaetan.

When John Moore moved back to Maine from Massachusetts, he thought he wouldn't have to wait long to get a permit to carry a concealed handgun.

Daryn Slover/Sun Journal

John Moore of New Gloucester has waited close to a month for his permit to carry a concealed firearm. Moore was raised with a "healthy respect" for firearms, and he bought a handgun primarily for target practice. Moore said having a carry permit will make it easier to transport his firearm from home to the firing range and back.

After all, Maine law says applicants who have been Maine residents for five years or longer have to be notified within 30 days of whether they've been approved or denied.

Although it's only been a bit more than three weeks since he applied, Moore, 40, of New Gloucester isn't optimistic.

A quick visit to the state's website told him he might have to wait up to three months for his permit. Moore, a martial arts teacher, believes knowledge of and ability to use firearms properly is part of being proficient in self-defense to protect himself, his wife and twin daughters.

He cited a recent trend in Maine of burglaries and home invasions by addicts seeking prescription drugs. In the rural area where he lives, law enforcement response time to a 911 call can take about 20 minutes, he said.

In Massachusetts, state law allows permits to carry concealed handguns, "but they can make it impossible," Moore said. He hoped it would be different in Maine.

Though not impossible, getting a permit here appears to require increasing patience.

And it's not only at the state level.

Maine towns and cities that handle their own applications for permits to carry concealed handguns are telling permit seekers they should expect to wait more than 30 days.

In Auburn, the wait is averaging around six weeks; in Lewiston, applicants are told it can take as long as 12 weeks.

As more people buy handguns, more gun owners are applying for permits.

Gun dealers say demand for handguns has shot up.

"Sales have been very good," said Jamie Pelletier, manager of Reid's Guns and Cigars in Auburn.

At G3 Firearms in Turner, handgun sales have doubled over the past year, owner Chris Jordan said.

Enrollment at firearm-safety courses has kept pace with brisk sales. Pelletier said every class offered by the shop has been full.

Paul Mattson, a National Rifle Association certified firearms instructor in Harrison said he's seen demand for his course in personal protection climb by nearly one-third over the past three years.

He said his students are frustrated by the time lag. One student, a 74-year-old woman who is a lifetime Maine resident, waited 114 days for her permit, while it took only two and a half weeks for her to get a U.S. passport in the mail, he said.

Maine State Police Lt. David Bowler said his agency put the notice on the state's website because it had been inundated with emails and phone calls from applicants wondering why they hadn't gotten their permits. The time it took to answer the inquiries was taking time from working on issuing the permits, he said.

"For some reason, we've been getting quite an unusual amount of applications" for the permits, he said.

Bowler oversees the concealed-handgun-carrying permitting process at the Maine Department of Public Safety for about 250 municipalities, such as New Gloucester, that don't issue their own permits. His also is the only permitting agency for nonresidents and private investigators.

The number of applications for concealed-carry permits processed by his agency shot up 46 percent from 2008 to 2011, he said.

While applications are up, staffing at his agency is not.

"We just never seem to get caught up," he said. To make matters worse, he's had personnel shifts that left the agency even shorter-staffed at times.

He's tried to address the problem with creative staffing solutions, short of paying overtime, "just to see if it's making a dent in this thing," he said. "If it looks like it's just a Band-Aid on a broken leg, then I'll stop it and just keep on charging forward the best we can."

He doesn't expect to get more workers anytime soon, Bowler said.

Part of the problem is waiting for other agencies or institutions to respond to requests for information, he said.

Applications require federal background checks, as well as checks with local law enforcement and mental health institutions.

As the number of permit applicants grows, those agencies and institutions have become overwhelmed by requests for information, Bowler said.

"We're at the mercy of these entities," he said. "They're probably in the same boat we are . . . It's just a vicious circle of getting bogged down."

Bowler said he couldn't explain the sharp increase in applications, but he pointed to the spike in gun sales.

He said the lagging economy may have had an effect.

Mattson said he believes that is a contributing factor, along with Moore's concern over burglaries and home invasions.

"People really can't have law enforcement at their disposal," he said. He's seen a greater percentage of women and more older people pursue handgun-safety courses.

Jordan said he's heard from his customers a "huge" increase in interest in concealed-carry permits since the 2008 election.

He said he sees more older couples in his store shopping for handguns for home protection.

Bowler said handgun owners who have permits should apply for renewal before their permits expire. If they do, they can continue to carry a concealed handgun until their renewal is approved or denied. If they wait until after their permits expire, they have six months to apply for a renewal, but can't conceal their handguns. If they wait more than six months after their permits expire, they have to apply as though they never had a permit.

cwilliams@sunjournal.com

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Comments

 's picture

I'm not sure if this has been

I'm not sure if this has been mentioned or not but a way to resolve this issue would be to do away with Concealed Carry Permits altogether
Vermont doesn't require permits and I believe Alaska doesn't either.
It would also be the most Constitutional way to deal with the issue.

Of course then you would have people saying well if we did that then Felons would carry and there would be all sorts of problems.

Well if that was true then why doesn't Vermont or Alaska have issues?

Criminals do not follow the laws and if they want to carry they will do so. The only people who end up hurt from these types of laws are law abiding citizens

Andrew Jones's picture

Just a thought; Do you

Just a thought;

Do you suppose the issuing authorities could save some time and money by forgoing federal background checks? A similar check is done when you purchase a firearm from a dealer, why duplicate efforts?

Like, if you produced your receipt from G3, Cabela's or wherever, they wouldn't bother running a check that you've already passed once and just issue the permit.

Brad Alexander's picture

Re: Just a thought

That's not a bad idea honestly, but my only question is- how is Maine to CYA when it comes out that a felon got a concealed carry permit? Yes, the location at which the weapon is bought is responsible for doing a background check, but depending on how expensive that process is I can imagine shortcuts are taken. You're on to something, maybe just a few details could be worked out.

Andrew Jones's picture

I find it unfortunate that

I find it unfortunate that there is such a lengthy delay in the process. However; in the mean time, open carry is legal in Maine.

Brad Alexander's picture

Re: There are too many people in

If you don't mind, please elaborate.

PAUL ST JEAN's picture

Makes sense.Then we'd really

Makes sense.Then we'd really have to be polite, at least to those that were packin'.

PAUL MATTSON's picture

A BAN WOULD BE UNCONSTITUTIONAL

FROM THE MAINE CONSTITUTION- Section 16. To keep and bear arms. Every citizen has a right to keep and bear arms and this right shall never be questioned.

Brad Alexander's picture

Re: A BAN WOULD BE UNCONSTITUTIONAL

I don't believe he's saying that guns should be banned. Just saying that the conceal carry permit should be banned in lieu of everyone carrying openly.

Brad Alexander's picture

Re: you don't have to have a

I agree with you in a sense... I do believe that if people carried exposed then they might possibly be less of a target for crime. But in a way that can backfire as well, what if an elderly person is carrying exposed and someone overpowers them and takes the weapon. If that weapon was concealed and brandished at the appropriate time then the situation would be different.

Also carrying exposed isn't always practical. Plenty of women have concealed carry permits. If they are wearing a dress or nice clothing then carrying exposed isn't really and option. Open carry isn't always comfortable either, I use an IWB holster which is comfortable for me. Wearing a leg holster may not be comfortable, or practical, to someone else.

PAUL ST JEAN's picture

Then we'd have to revive the

Then we'd have to revive the old Mae West line, " Is that a gun in your pocket or are you just happy to see me?"

Dan Beggs's picture

we need new law- no permit required

many states have it and maine should too

PAUL ST JEAN's picture

The Pirate could wrap his

The Pirate could wrap his mind around that one. No mess, no fuss, no paper work, no waiting, etc,etc.

Brad Alexander's picture

Conceal carry permits test patience

I myself being a holder of concealed carry permits in two different states agree that it is frustrating having to wait for the disposition of your application. I hold permits in Kentucky and Washington and both were very quick and helpfull in ensuring that I got my permit in a timely manner.

Now in regards to the slow processing in Maine, "a recent trend in Maine of burglaries and home invasions by addicts seeking prescription drugs" this has a lot to do with the whole thing. As I sit in the various locations that the Army sends me, I keep up with the news from home and it's disheartenning to see the Maine I knew falling away. I agree that people should be allowed to carry concealed weapons to protect themselves or others.

Paul, when you say, "Not sure how a statement on a State Police web site absolves then from obeying the law", I don't think you are taking into consideratioin the amount of applications they are processing. Yes, the stipulation says that within 30 days the applicant will have an answer... but with the recent spike in crime rate and growing applicant list one can not hold the processing department responsible. At least they had the courtesy to put out a message stating that they are backed up and people may have to wait longer.

 's picture

I'm happy for you, Brad.

With all those concealed weapons permits, now you can fire at will - or at Jim or Fred or Mary - just like Francis Smith and Robert Bales.

Brad Alexander's picture

Re: I'm happy for you, Brad

So what your saying is because I hold multiple concealed carry permits I'm a reckless, trigger happy, untrained, idiot that just wants to kill someone?

Please save your sarcastic trolling for someone a little less educated. Thank you.

 's picture

Nope.

The two gentlemen I named are both in stories in today's paper. Both were great fathers, husbands, neighbors. Neither were ever expected to do anything like they did by friends, family members or neighbors. Guess I'm just thinking of potential.

Brad Alexander's picture

Re: YOU just proved what is wrong

angry? YOU HAVEN'T SEEN ME ANGRY!!!! lol, no but really, I don't see where you get anger out of that statement.

PAUL ST JEAN's picture

I believe he may have been

I believe he may have been using the term 'anger issues' in the broad generic sense rather than pertaining to a specific individual.

Steve Bulger's picture

Brad,

if you have been following this forum for any significant length of time, you know that there are a few trolls who post only to see if they can incite others with their ridiculous comments. If you ignore those trolls, you give them nothing to which they can respond. It's called forced starvation, and it works. Just let them stew in their own juices because that is more satisfying than responding to their tripe.

RONALD RIML's picture

So what Steve is telling us

So what Steve is telling us is that there aren't two side to an argument.

It's his way or the highway. How American.

Brad Alexander's picture

Re: So what Steve is telling us

No Sir, I don't believe that is what he is saying at all. There is a terrible pandemic on open talk forums where people can't resist the urge to blatantly turn stories around and start arguments for pure entertainment. There are always two sides to the story, three actually... person 1, person 2, and the truth.

PAUL MATTSON's picture

Only the legislature with the

Only the legislature with the governors signature can the law be changed.

Brad Alexander's picture

Re: Only the legislature with the

Your absolutely correct, although I'm not challenging this. I was just pointing out that they are backed up, not attempting to change the laws.

PAUL ST JEAN's picture

An armed society is a polite

An armed society is a polite society.

RONALD RIML's picture

I call B.S!!

B.S. Pirate!

I've taken guns away from a number of disagreeable characters.....

PAUL ST JEAN's picture

No system is perfect.

No system is perfect.

GARY SAVARD's picture

With your bare hands, Ron, or

With your bare hands, Ron, or did you have a gun as well? There will always be disagreeable characters and there is nothing wrong with people being prepared to defend against them. Remember, when seconds count, the police are only minutes away.

RONALD RIML's picture

Bare hands is 'immaterial'

Bare hands is 'immaterial'

- Your point is that these armed folk would be 'polite' - In your dreams!!!

PAUL ST JEAN's picture

Good line, Gary. The parrot

Good line, Gary. The parrot sez he's gonna use it on his next date.

RONALD RIML's picture

That's right....

And I've seen citizens blow other citizens away at far greater rate than they have ever blown perps away.

Odd that the 'National Rifleman' doesn't have a column entitled 'The Armed Idiot' as they do 'The Armed Citizen' - there would be much more fodder to fill their magazine based upon what I saw in twenty years of law enforcement.

PAUL MATTSON's picture

Maine Revised Statutes

Maine Revised Statutes §2002-A§2004
Title 25: INTERNAL SECURITY AND PUBLIC SAFETY
Part 5: PUBLIC SAFETY
Chapter 252: PERMITS TO CARRY CONCEALED HANDGUNS
12. Permit for a resident of 5 or more years to be issued or denied within 30 days; permit for a nonresident and resident of less than 5 years to be issued or denied within 60 days.

STATE POLICE NOTICE: Notice to concealed handgun permit applicants: Due to the high volume of applications the Weapons Division is receiving, it may take as long as 90 days to receive your permit. http://www.maine.gov/dps/msp/licenses/weapons_permits.html

Not sure how a statement on a State Police web site absolves then from obeying the law?

RONALD RIML's picture

No 'Imperative' to it....

The law doesn't state "Shall be issued or denied within 30 days"

Lacking the 'Shall' it makes a difference.

PAUL MATTSON's picture

'to be issued or denied' is

'to be issued or denied' is clear enough for me.

RONALD RIML's picture

Of course it is...

I wouldn't expect you to know anything about statutes.

PAUL MATTSON's picture

We teach 3 hours of firearms

We teach 3 hours of firearms law every month. www.mainecwptraining.com

RONALD RIML's picture

Which has absolutely nothing to do

Which has absolutely nothing to do with the duties which were under discussion.

i.e. - Must the State Police issue or deny the permit within 30 days? Are they statutorily required to do this within that time period, or is it merely a guideline?

Check my profile - I also have some background in firearms instruction. But that's not the point; it's a 'statutory' issue.

If someone is not granted not denied their permit within the time period specified, what are their options??

William Burke's picture

no it all

I grew up in IL BELONGING TO ACLU IS ALL I NEED TO KNOW ABOUT YOU THANK YOU FOR SERVING. I WAS NAVY ALSO

RONALD RIML's picture

William

And what do you REALLY know about the ACLU, William??

Care to share??

William Burke's picture

aclu

ENOUGH TO KNOW WE DON,T NEED THEM ANYMORE. I AM SORRY I AM NOT AS ALL KNOWING AS YOU BUT NO ONE IS GOING TO TAKE MY GUN. SO MAKE ALL THE LAWS YOU WANT. I ALSO CAME FROM A LAW ENFORCEMENT FAMILY. I GREW UP WITH COPS. MY BEST FRIEND IS A COP. WE DON,T BREAK LAWS. THIS IS ALL I AM GOING TO SAY.

RONALD RIML's picture

Now there's enough

to shout a 'Non Answer'

And the reason you can do that here is because of "Gitlow V. New York" - the 1925 Supreme Court case in which it was decided that our Constitutional Bill of Rights Protections of Free Speech not only applied to the Federal Government - but also against State intrusion.

And you can thank the ACLU for that.

William Burke's picture

aclu

ENOUGH TO KNOW WE DON,T NEED THEM ANYMORE. I AM SORRY I AM NOT AS ALL KNOWING AS YOU BUT NO ONE IS GOING TO TAKE MY GUN. SO MAKE ALL THE LAWS YOU WANT. I ALSO CAME FROM A LAW ENFORCEMENT FAMILY. I GREW UP WITH COPS. MY BEST FRIEND IS A COP. WE DON,T BREAK LAWS. THIS IS ALL I AM GOING TO SAY.

RONALD RIML's picture

William

You know enough that you don't need the ACLU...? Day-um! I reckon ignorance is Bliss after all......

BTW - I'm far from 'All-knowing' as you allege. But the U.S. Constitution with it's Bill of Rights is a wonderful thing for a citizen to learn. I was lucky enough to have a fantastic Constitutional Law professor whom I took a number of courses from compliments of our Uncle Sam.

We Americans take so much for granted - yet our civil rights and freedoms were also fought for in the Courts as we had to fight for other freedoms on the battleground. Take it upon yourself to find out who fought those battles - why our freedoms of speech, expression, assembly, and political association that we take for granted are actually the result of many court cases.

Who do you think brought these court cases that so many of us enjoy the fruits of?

These aren't exactly 'conservative' ideals.

RONALD RIML's picture

You might ask

Your Cop friend how to keyboard in both lower case along with Caps.

William Burke's picture

CAPITAL LETTERS

I USE CAPITAL LETTERS SO I CAN SEE THEM. NO OTHER REASON

RONALD RIML's picture

10-4

10-4

PAUL MATTSON's picture

The very first post I

The very first post I included the statute. They are in fact in violation of Maine Law.

RONALD RIML's picture

Paul - You've obviously got a 'Dawg' in this fight...

Paul - You've obviously got a 'Dawg' in this fight...

Looking at your website, you have a business which advertises "NRA Certified Courses That Satisfy Necessary Requirements To: Apply For Your Maine Concealed Handgun Permit Recognized In 23 States"

If your customers aren't able to get their permits within the time they believe they should - odds are you're going to get some heat, through no fault of your own.

I'd certainly get with your elected State Rep and Senator, and let them know what's going on. Also the Governor's office - and tell them it's affecting business.... Talk to your lawyer you reference on your site. There has to be a 'work-around.'

PAUL MATTSON's picture

I get no heat because I am up

I get no heat because I am up front with all out clients. I also have 6 legislators working on a remedy for the issue.

RONALD RIML's picture

So Paul...

So Paul, let's say you've trained someone for their permit... And the State Police are sitting on the application over 30 days -

What do you do to compel the State to issue a permit to the applicant??

PAUL MATTSON's picture

Stop pissing in the wind~~~

Stop pissing in the wind~~~

RONALD RIML's picture

No reason to....

No dog in this fight....

But you've got hard $$$ riding on it.

RONALD RIML's picture

You know they are in violation

You know the Maine State Police are in violation of Maine Law because you have a written opinion from the Maine Attorney General??

Or you don't know - but are sufficiently sure enough that you are willing to take them to Court??

Or, most likely, you have no idea of the use of an imperative command - such as 'Shall' - in a statute when it is the intent of the legislature to compel a state agency to perform a specific duty.

My best guess is option three - but hey - you've probably spent a lot more time in court than I have.

Brad Alexander's picture

Re: You know they are in violation

Sir, I agree that you have a wealth of knowledge in the laws and statutes of Maine. I admire your service in the law enforcement field, but here's something to think about. I'm not sure how long ago you discontinued your service in law enforcement but there is something called cyber-bullying. Now before you get mad, I'm not pointing the finger at your for doing it or saying that the person you are having a conversation with is not "thick-skinned" enough to handle it.

All I'm saying is you are sharing a great deal of information for all of us to benefit from, but there is no reason for the personal attacks.

This is knocking on the door of that "trolling" thing we talked about before, which in turn is a form of cyber-bullying... which I'm sure you know is illegal.

RONALD RIML's picture

So you've replaced

So you've replaced Patti Reaves as the Forum Moderator here???

I imagine she recognizes cyber-bullying when she sees it - but I'm not convinced you yet know sh*t from shinola if you banter that phrase about for the lively give and take which occurs on this site here.

So who's knickers did you screw with to get sent to Gitmo??

Brad Alexander's picture

Re: So you've replaced

So I see you fall into the group that is aforementioned. Duly noted.

And I volunteered to come to GTMO (yes, not Gitmo...) and do my job with the detention operations. It's a great job with it's ups and downs, just like any other job.

RONALD RIML's picture

So sorry

We called it Gitmo when I was there.

I don't know if you were born yet.

Brad Alexander's picture

Re: So sorry

lol, probably not... There are still a lot of the old battle emplacements and wire obstables laying around. I hear there are a lot of mines in certain areas too, but we don't have access to that stuff.

RONALD RIML's picture

Wanna have fun

Go jogging there in July/August- preferably in the afternoon.

Brad Alexander's picture

Re: Wanna have fun

Actually, the MA's (Navy version of police) will stop you and either make you walk or drive you home. When it's heat catagory 5 (above 98 degrees) you are not permitted to run unless it's "unit/organizaitonal" PT. You can actually get a citation for "destruction of government property".

RONALD RIML's picture

Wusses...

I was an MACS - lotta perks go with it.

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