Opinion: NRA and Sportsman’s Alliance of Maine should support gun licensing

Gun Rights

In a Dec. 1 Press Herald article (“King’s bill to regulate assault-style weapons supported by White House, criticized by NRA”), the National Rifle Association’s legislative director was quoted as saying that Maine Sen. Angus King’s newly proposed federal law to limit high-capacity gun magazines “blatantly violates the U.S. Constitution and U.S. Supreme Court rulings” and will do “nothing to take guns out of the hands of dangerous criminals.”

If the NRA actually supports keeping dangerous people from owning guns, will it support the licensing of guns, a measure the U.S. Supreme Court in 2022 specifically said is constitutional?

In his majority opinion in New York State Rifle & Pistol Association, Inc. v. Bruen, Justice Clarence Thomas stated that only “law-abiding and responsible” citizens have a Second Amendment right to bear arms, and finds that “shall-issue” gun licensing laws (meaning laws with objective licensing standards) are constitutional.

In concurring with Justice Thomas, Justice Kavanaugh and Chief Justice Roberts also noted that it was “constitutionally permissible” for shall-issue gun licensing laws to “require a license applicant to undergo fingerprinting, a background check, a mental health records check, and training in firearms handling and in laws regarding the use of force, among other possible requirements.”

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If Maine had had such a mandatory gun licensing law, perhaps the tragedy of the Lewiston mass shooting that took 18 Mainers’ lives on Oct. 25, might have been prevented.

States that have enacted strong gun licensing laws have substantially lower gun death rates and gun suicide rates than Maine does. Compare Massachusetts – with its strong gun licensing law, and a gun death rate of 3.4 per 100,000, and gun suicide rate of 1.7 per 100,000 – to Maine, with only a “voluntary” concealed carry handgun permit law, and a gun death rate of 12.6 per 100,000, and a gun suicide rate of 9.2 per 100,000.


A mandatory gun licensing law would also stop Maine from being a gun-source state for criminals from other states (and countries) that require gun licenses and universal background checks. The shooter who killed 22 persons in Canada in 2020 came to Maine to get guns. 

Article I, section 1 of the Maine Constitution specifically guarantees Maine citizens the right to pursue and obtain safety. As defenders of constitutional rights, do the NRA and the Sportsman’s Alliance of Maine support the constitutional right of Maine citizens to pursue and obtain safety?

The Supreme Court holds that shall-issue gun licensing laws do not infringe on Second Amendment rights and the data shows that such a law would promote safety in Maine’s communities by reducing the chances of guns being in the hands of dangerous people.

Will the NRA and the Sportsman’s Alliance of Maine support, rather than oppose, the passage of such a law, to help keep Maine communities and their families safe?

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