So I mentioned yesterday that we're doing some preliminaries for the Maine trip...
While doing some research for the trip, I remembered something: Maine is a shall-issue state, meaning that authorities can't arbitrarily deny a firearms carry permit to a qualified citizen. I'll actually be spending a week in one of the 39 states that don't consider the Second Amendment just a friendly suggestion. For somebody who grew up in New Jersey, this is a hell of a novelty.
I played around a bit with the reciprocity maps at usacarry.com*, and decided my best bet was to just take the direct approach and apply to the state of Maine for a nonresident concealed carry permit.
This involves a few steps, most of which are pretty easy: they need a copy of my birth certificate, several release forms (to enable their criminal and mental health background checks), a passport photo, and a $60 check. They'd also need copies of my other carry permits and my discharge papers, if I'd ever had another permit or served in the military. I also have to fill out a long questionnaire certifying that, among other things, I'm not being charged with a violent crime by the tribal courts of the Penobscot or Passamaquoddy indians.
But, like most shall-issue states, Maine also requires me to prove that I know how to handle a firearm safely. And that means a recognized safety class, complete with its own $100 fee. And that's why, this weekend, Danielle and I are getting up early and heading for a nondescript commercial building in Branchburg with two handguns and 200 rounds of ammunition for a Basic Pistol course from the NRA--the gold standard of firearms safety training.
We're vacationing for one week in a place with a crime rate significantly lower than where I live, which is already safer than most of suburban New Jersey. Realistically, the chances Danielle or I will need our guns handy in that week are practically nonexistent. Is it worth an eight-hour class and almost $175 (not to mention the new gun and holsters, which are pretty expensive) to get a permit that'll be mostly useless in my everyday life?**
Well, let's put it this way: if your state freely ignored the _First_ Amendment, arbitrarily denying you the right to speak your mind on political matters under threat of imprisonment, would you pay two hundred bucks to enjoy free speech for a week, even if it was purely symbolic?
[* - Unlike driver's licenses and marriages (at least the ones that don't have gay cooties), there's no interstate standard for recognizing concealed carry licenses. If you have a CCW in your home state, it'll be recognized only by those states that have specifically signed reciprocity agreements with your state. This means carefully planning trips to make sure you're covered while travelling. Getting nonresident permits from widely-honored states is common practice, with Florida and Utah being the "best buys". Maine recognizes neither.]
[** - To be fair, the Maine permit is all I need to get a New Hampshire nonresident permit, which is honored in Pennsylvania. On the very rare occasions that I go to Philadelphia, this insurance policy will be much more valuable than it was in Maine.]