See our Carrying Concealed Weapons policy summary for a comprehensive discussion of this issue.

Permitless Carry

Maine law allows any individual who is 21 years of age or older and who is not generally prohibited from possessing firearms to carry a concealed handgun in public without obtaining a permit.1 As described below, Maine’s permitting system remains in place, and there are still reasons why one might choose to obtain a concealed handgun permit. For example, holders of Maine concealed handgun permits are also allowed to carry concealed handguns in some other states.

The only requirements imposed on people who carry handguns in public without a permit under Maine’s 2015 law are that:

  • they must be 21 years of older and not generally prohibited from possessing firearms;
  • upon purchase of a handgun, they must sign in the presence of the firearms dealer an acknowledgment saying that they have received the firearms safety brochure developed by the State Police, and retain the acknowledgement; and
  • upon contact with a law enforcement officer, they must inform the officer that they are carrying a concealed handgun.2

Concealed Handgun Licenses

Maine has traditionally been considered a “may issue” state, meaning that local law enforcement has discretion in determining whether or not to issue a concealed weapons permit to an applicant. In fact, Maine law provides that a permit to carry a concealed handgun “shall” be issued by the local issuing authority (Chief of the State Police or municipal officers or the local chief of police, if designated) to any applicant who “has demonstrated good moral character” and meets other specified criteria.3 Law enforcement has limited discretion in determining whether an applicant has demonstrated good moral character (see below). An applicant who has demonstrated good moral character will be granted a permit if he or she:

  • Is 18 years of age or older;
  • Is not disqualified from possessing a firearm (see the section entitled Prohibited Purchasers Generally);
  • Completes a detailed application that includes any record of previous issuances of, refusals to issue, and revocations of any permit to carry concealed weapons by any issuing authority in Maine or any other jurisdiction, and requests the applicant to answer 32 questions denying, inter alia, certain age restrictions, pending felony charges, felony convictions, other violent crimes or juvenile or other offenses, mental disorders, drug use;
  • Takes whatever action is required by law to allow the issuing authority to obtain from the Department of Health and Human Services, the courts, law enforcement agencies and the military, information relevant to the application; and
  • Demonstrates knowledge of handgun safety, as described below.

In judging the applicant’s “good moral character,” the licensing authority may only consider government records within the preceding five years, including but not limited to records regarding:

  • Incidents of abuse by the applicant upon family or household members;
  • Three or more misdemeanor convictions, or one or more juvenile offense adjudications involving conduct that would have been punishable by less than one year of imprisonment if committed by an adult;
  • The applicant ever engaging in reckless or negligent conduct; or
  • Convictions or juvenile adjudications for certain drug possession or trafficking offenses.4

Firearm Safety Training

An applicant for a Maine concealed handgun permit must demonstrate knowledge of handgun safety by submitting to the issuing authority proof that the applicant has within the previous five years completed a course that included handgun safety offered by or under the supervision of a law enforcement agency or a firearms instructor certified by a private firearms association recognized as knowledgeable in matters of firearms safety by the issuing authority or by the state in which the course was taken.5 As an alternative way of fully satisfying this requirement, an applicant may personally demonstrate knowledge of handgun safety to an issuing authority, if the issuing authority is willing to evaluate an applicant’s personal demonstration of such knowledge. The issuing authority is not required to offer this second option.6

Duration & Renewal

Concealed handgun permits are valid for four years. Permit renewals are also valid for four years.7

Disclosure or Use of Information

In Maine, all applications for a permit to carry a concealed handgun, documents created as part of an application, refusals to issue a permit and any information of record collected by the licensing agency during the process of ascertaining whether an applicant is of “good moral character” and meets the requirements for a permit are confidential and may not be made available for public inspection or copying.8 Furthermore, all proceedings related to the issuance, refusal to issue, or revocation of a permit are not public proceedings, unless requested to be by the applicant.9

However, the licensing authority is required to make a permanent record of each permit to carry a concealed handgun in a suitable book or file kept for that purpose.10 The record must include the information contained in the permit itself and shall be available for public inspection.11 However, Maine has no law specifically requiring this information be collected for law enforcement purposes.

Finally, although municipal officers are required to publish an annual report regarding municipal affairs, such reports cannot contain the names of persons issued concealed handgun permits.12

Reciprocity

Maine enacted a law in 2015 that allows a nonresident to carry a concealed handgun in Maine if that person’s state of residence honors a Maine permit to carry a concealed handgun and that person has obtained a permit to carry a concealed  handgun from the person’s state of residence, regardless of the standards for obtaining a permit from that state. 13

Notes
  1. Me. Stat., 25 § 2001-A(2)(A-1). Note that a Maine “permit to carry a concealed handgun” differs from a Maine “permit to carry a firearm.” A “permit to carry a firearm” is a permit issued to a person formerly prohibited from possessing firearms, whose eligibility to possess firearms has been temporarily restored. ⤴︎
  2. 2015 Me. S.B. 245. ⤴︎
  3. Me. Stat., 25 § 2003(1). ⤴︎
  4. Me. Stat., 25 § 2003(4). Additional application and background check requirements, as well as permit suspension and disqualification information, are detailed under section 2003 and section 2005-A. Permit revocation information is detailed under section 2005(1). ⤴︎
  5. Me. Stat., 25 § 2003(1)(E)(5). ⤴︎
  6. Id. ⤴︎
  7. Me. Stat., 25 § 2003(8). ⤴︎
  8. Me. Stat., 25 § 2006. ⤴︎
  9. Id. ⤴︎
  10. Id. ⤴︎
  11. Id. ⤴︎
  12. Me. Stat., 30-A § 2801(3-A). ⤴︎
  13. Me. Stat., 25 § 2001-A(2)(F). ⤴︎