EDWARD PALTZIK - Maine is well known for its picturesque collection of 65 historical lighthouses. These beacons have long saved sailors from the calamity of shipwreck in the darkness along Maine’s primeval coastline. Fittingly, this longtime refuge of independent thinkers is rapidly cementing its status as a leading beacon of liberty amidst the backdrop of a decaying nation. Government rarely gives stolen liberties back to the governed. Politicians and bureaucrats typically justify these freedom thefts with dishonest assertions of “public health, safety and welfare.” However, with two simple moves – ditching the permit requirement for concealed handgun carry last week and increasing speed limits last year - Maine’s lawmakers have shown that a little bit of common sense can make life a lot better.
On July 8, 2015, Governor Paul LePage (R) signed Legislative Document 652, “An Act to Authorize the Carrying of Concealed Handguns without a Permit” (“LD 652”) into law, thereby eliminating the concealed carry permit requirement for individuals 21 or older and military personnel age 18 to 20, effective October 2015. State Senator Eric Brakey (R), who accurately called it a “common-sense measure,” sponsored LD 652. With Governor LePage’s stroke of the pen, Maine joined Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, Kansas, Vermont and Wyoming as pure “constitutional carry” States, in which no permit is required to carry a handgun concealed or openly. Even before LD 652, Maine had a strong hunting tradition, did not require handgun ownership permits and allowed open carry; with LD 652 a done deal, Maine vaults into the top echelon of Second Amendment havens. The fact that LD 652 passed resoundingly with strong bipartisan support despite efforts to thwart the measure by Michael Bloomberg and other gun-control jihadists makes this freedom victory all the better. LD 652 is also symbolically significant because it provides a measure of balance against the ludicrous handgun-permitting schemes in other locations that insidiously reposition our Second Amendment right to purchase, own and carry handguns as a privilege. These unconstitutional schemes serve only two purposes: to generate government revenue and to increase government control over our lives. We are all freer and safer when good people have easy access to guns. It’s refreshing to see that Maine’s lawmakers recognized that concealed carry is a right rather than a privilege, didn’t let loss of permit revenue stand in the way of sensible public policy, and ignored the left’s gun-control hysteria. Maine already had one of the lowest crime rates in the country and is now even safer.
Meanwhile, if you are returning to Maine this summer after having not visited in a while, you may be pleasantly surprised to see speed limit signs on Interstate highways emblazoned with a tantalizing “70.” Effective May 27, 2014, the Maine Department of Transportation increased the speed limit from 65 to 70 MPH on almost all of I-295 and long stretches of I-95. Additionally, on August 11, 2014, the Maine Turnpike Authority increased the speed limit from 65 to 70 MPH on other stretches of I-95 totaling almost 100 miles. Maine was already the fastest State east of the Mississippi since 2011, when the Legislature passed a law raising the speed limit from 65 to 75 MPH on the remote northernmost 110-mile stretch of I-95. As the Turnpike Authority conceded, most people drive over 70 MPH on highways regardless of the speed limit. Unrealistically low speed limits promote disrespect for the law, hinder freedom of movement and do nothing to improve safety. It’s great to see that Maine’s road-keepers realized that faster is better on highways, although Maine still has a long way to go to catch speed champion Texas at 85 MPH.
No law can ever eliminate Maine’s horrendous black flies and mosquitoes, or change the horrible reality that Maine voted for Obama twice. However, it has an endless supply of idyllic scenery, plenty of fresh lobster, and very few crowds. Now you can enjoy it all with your favorite carry gun and a really fast car. As Maine’s slogan says, that’s “The Way Life Should Be.”