Maine is one of a handful of states in the United States that has authorized its citizens to carry a concealed pistol without the need for a permit or license. In fact, there are currently only eight states that do not require a permit or license to carry a concealed weapon. Before you rush off to Maine, you need to educate yourself about the Maine concealed carry laws and how they affect travelers, visitors, and residents of the State of Maine.
In October 2015, Maine’s state government passed a law authorizing concealed handguns without a permit. This law stipulates some basic requirements for anyone that wishes to carry a concealed handgun. The Maine concealed carry law also contains various restrictions about where and when a concealed carry firearm is legal.
Part of the requirements of Maine concealed carry handgun law mandates that those who choose to carry be knowledgeable and aware of these restrictions and all other firearms laws and regulations. While we have tried to be as thorough as possible in this article, you should do your own research and study. Laws change regularly, and this article’s information may be outdated by the time you read it.
Who Can Carry a Concealed Handgun in Maine?
The relevant part of the Maine concealed carry handgun law states:
A handgun carried by a person who is 21 years of age or older and is not otherwise prohibited from carrying a firearm . . .
In layman’s terms, that means anyone who is 21 years of age and can legally possess a pistol can carry that pistol concealed in the State of Maine. There are, of course, certain exemptions or restrictions on this very broad law.
Prohibited persons are, by and large, anyone who cannot legally purchase or possess the firearms in question. In Maine, as in most states, you must be 21 years of age to purchase a pistol legally. Certain other persons may be barred by state law, such as anyone convicted of a felony or certain classes of misdemeanors.
Anyone judged to be mentally incompetent or unfit is usually included in the category of prohibited persons. You should check with an attorney familiar with Maine concealed carry laws to determine if you are considered a prohibited person.
If any of the following applies to you, you may be considered a prohibited person according to Maine concealed carry law:
- Conviction of a felony and some qualifying misdemeanors involving domestic violence
- Some juvenile adjudications
- If you are under an order of protection because of abuse or violence
- A dishonorable discharge from the military
- Certain kinds of immigration status can be a disqualifier
- If you have a deferred disposition status in a court proceeding
- Some mental health adjudications
- Probate adjudications can make you a prohibited person
- Some bail conditions may prohibit you from concealed carry
Exceptions to the Prohibitions
You soon learn that there are often as many exceptions to a rule of law in any legislative or judicial environment as there are benefits. Maine concealed carry law is no different.
- Active Duty Military – Anyone on active duty with the armed forces of the United States or the National Guard may concealed carry a handgun if they are over the age of 18.
- Honorably Discharged Military – By the same token, anyone who has an honorable discharge from the U.S. military or national guard and is over 18 may conceal carry a pistol without a permit.
Where Can I Carry a Concealed Firearm?
Maine concealed carry firearm acts maintain strict and explicit places and times when it is illegal to carry concealed firearms. Everyone who plans on carrying a concealed firearm in Maine, both resident and non-resident, should understand these restricted locations.
You may not carry concealed in the following places in Maine.
- Courthouses (17-AMRS § 1058)
- State Parks (12 MRS § 1803)
- Acadia National Park (12 MRS § 756)
- Schools (20-AMRS § 6552)
- Federal Buildings (18 USC § 930)
- State Capital Area (25 MRS § 2904)
- Private property when prohibited by the property owner
- Establishments licensed for on-premises consumption of liquor (if the premises are posted, and the person carrying a concealed weapon is not under the influence of intoxicating liquor or drugs 17 AMRS § 1057)
- Wildlife Sanctuaries (12 MRS § 12707)
- Labor disputes and strikes (32 MRS § 9412)
- Baxter State Park
- Allagash Wilderness Waterway
Under some circumstances, a concealed carry holder may continue to carry at events or locations that would otherwise be prohibited. These situations typically require a special permit to authorize the concealed carry of a firearm.
- Maine’s residents and non-residents may carry concealed in Acadia National Park if the Maine resident has a recognized Maine concealed carry permit. Also, non-resident concealed carry permits are valid in Maine if the state that issued the permit to the non-resident has a reciprocity agreement with the State of Maine.
- Maine State Parks have the same exception. Anyone holding a valid concealed carry permit recognized by the State of Maine may carry concealed in a Maine State Park.
- If you are an archery hunter and have a valid Maine hunting license for archery deer hunting, you may carry a concealed pistol while hunting.
- If your employer prohibits firearms on the work location, but you have a Maine concealed carry permit, you may keep your firearm in your vehicle if the vehicle is locked, and the firearm is out of sight.
When You Are Carrying – Duties and Responsibilities
With the right to carry a concealed firearm comes certain responsibilities and duties. Many of these are common sense. However, Maine concealed carry law does make some specific duties mandatory:
- You cannot carry a concealed firearm if you are considered a prohibited person.
- If you are under the age of 21 (or 18 if active military), you may not carry a concealed firearm without a permit.
- If you encounter any law enforcement officer on official business (routine stop, detainment, or arrest), you must immediately inform the officer that you are carrying a concealed weapon.
Getting a Maine Concealed Carry Permit
You may find it convenient to have a Maine concealed carry permit. As we have seen, having a permit does qualify you to carry concealed in some places that would otherwise be off-limits. Additionally, many other states recognize Maine’s concealed carry permit, so it is very much in your best interest to get started as soon as possible. In Maine, concealed carry permits are usually issued by the local police department. In some situations, the Maine State Police may handle the issuance of concealed carry permits.
To determine which agency issues permits, the State of Maine publishes a list of towns where the State police issue Maine concealed carry permits. If your town or city is not on this list, the local police or sheriff’s department handles the licensing more than likely. You can access the list here.
The Permitting Process – Maine Residents
If you are a Maine resident and wish to apply for a Maine concealed carry permit, the process is not complicated. The basic steps include:
- Get an application package – The application package is available online at this link
- Fill out the application fully – Any missing information will cause your application to be rejected
- Follow the directions in the application package exactly – Several options affect the fees and what additional information must be included with the application
- Send the application to the appropriate authority with a check for the correct fees
If you are a non-resident, you can also apply for a Maine concealed carry permit. The application and process are much the same as a resident application. It is important to understand that holding a Maine concealed carry permit may not make it legal for you to carry in your state. Be sure to check with the authorities in your state before you begin carrying a concealed firearm with a Maine concealed carry permit. At Online CHP, we make this easy. Take our simple test, fill out your information, and we’ll mail you your Maine application and certificate of handgun competency.
Reciprocity – Can or Can’t You Carry?
The issue of reciprocity among the various states of the union is complex and confusing. Unlike the reciprocity acceptance of driver’s licenses (almost universal among the states), concealed carry permits are considerably more restrictive. States typically negotiate reciprocity agreements covering concealed carry permits, and these agreements often create a climate of misunderstanding and confusion.
No standardization exists for reciprocity agreements. No federal mandate exists to require states to honor each other’s concealed carry permits. Reciprocity agreements can be changed or eliminated quickly and at the whim of lawmakers.
The best advice is to check with the states where you may travel for the status of any reciprocity agreements. Several websites try to keep the most current information, but my recommendation is to check with the state itself. Most states have the most current information on the status of reciprocity on the agency’s website that issues the permits.
Maine Concealed Carry Reciprocity
As of the writing of this article, Maine had reciprocity agreements with the following states.
- Alaska (must be 21 or older)
- Arizona (must be 21 or older)
- Iowa (must be 21 or older)
- Kansas (must be 21 or older)
- Nebraska (must be 21 or older)
- New Hampshire
- North Carolina
- North Dakota (must be 21 or older)
- Virginia (must be 21 or older and possess government-issued identification)
(Information courtesy of the State of Maine Licensing and Permitting Department. https://www.maine.gov/dps/msp/licenses-permits/concealed-carry-maine/reciprocity)
I must reiterate that these reciprocity agreements are fluid and can change rapidly. Before you travel, check the latest status.
I must also point out that when you travel to a state with a reciprocity agreement, you are bound by the laws, regulations, and rules of the state you are visiting. These requirements may be vastly different from your home state. Be sure to know the restrictions and laws of the state you are visiting.
Additional Things to Consider
Along with the regulations and laws governing where and when you can carry, you should educate yourself on several other things before you begin to conceal carry a firearm:
- Understand the laws governing self-defense in the state in which you intend to carry. In Maine, the applicable laws governing self-defense are available online here:
- 17-a M.R.S §104. Use of force in defense of premises
- 17-a M.R.S §105. Use of force in property offenses
- 17-a M.R.S §106. Physical force by persons with special responsibilities
- 17-a M.R.S §108. Physical force in defense of a person
- You must train and practice with your firearm to maintain a minimal level of competency. Training includes physical range time to hone your skills with your firearm and educational training to stay abreast of your state’s current laws, regulations, and requirements.
The Right to Carry – Constitutional, But Not Without Regulation
Maine is a member of a small group of states recognizing the right to what many term “constitutional carry.” The right to carry a weapon, either openly or concealed, is one of these constitutional rights that the Supreme Court of the United States has deemed guaranteed by the United States Constitution, but that can be further managed or restricted by individual states.
In Closing – The Responsibility Remains with You
I hope that the information in this article has answered your questions about Maine concealed carry law. However, the duty to act responsibly remains your own. The information in this article is not legal advice. For such advice, you should consult with an attorney. We have tried to provide the most accurate and timely information possible, but laws change and you must do your own due diligence to ensure that you are aware of the most up-to-date and accurate information available.