BETHEL — Residents seeking a concealed weapons permit will now get them through the Maine State Police, following a recent vote by Bethel selectmen.

The board had been issuing the permits after the Oxford County Sheriff’s Office did background checks.

Town Manager Jim Doar said selectmen are authorized by state law to issue the permits, or they can designate a police chief. When Bethel had a police department, that’s what happened.

“Now that we don’t have a police department, we kept it as a courtesy,” Doar said at the previous board meeting. “We’re not a faceless state employee or state police. They can come in and talk to us or call us if there’s a problem.”

But now, he said, “I get more complaints about this, between all the different steps and the waiting.”

He said weeks can elapse while the Sheriff’s Office gets the applications and works through the background checks.


“It might be smoother and easier to let the state police do the whole thing and keep the records,” Doar told selectmen. “Let’s get out of this business.”

Selectman Don Bennett said, “There are times when you see a name and you have a little more information than perhaps someone out there will on checks. But it doesn’t do you any good to have the information because the criteria they need to work with are pretty specific.”

Town Clerk Christen Mason said most people who come into the Town Office to apply favor having the state police do the work.

“A comment you hear from people is, ‘Why don’t you let the state police do it? It would be so much easier for us,’” she said.

Doar said many people already fill out the state police application, available online, and bring it to Bethel officials.

The board voted unanimously to make the change.

Asked later, Doar said there are currently 100 active permits in Bethel. He said most recent applications have been renewals, with only a few new applicants.

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