Letter: Close the loophole on gun sales in Maine

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I write not as a conservative or liberal, not as a gun owner or non-owner, but as a Mainer concerned for our public safety. A gap exists in the current gun law that contradicts its intent: to protect the general welfare of us all.

Maine law requires licensed gun dealers to complete background checks on all of their buyers before a sale can occur. However, it does not require private sellers, like those who conduct business at gun shows, online, or through Uncle Henry’s, to perform this same safeguard. In essence, a buyer possesses the ability to avoid a background check simply by choosing where to purchase his or her firearm.

Collectively, we as conservatives or liberals, as gun owners or non-owners, are all stakeholders in ensuring the safety of our children, our families, and our communities. This November a citizens’ initiative will appear on the ballot that respects our Second Amendment right to bear arms and seeks only to require background checks on all gun sales. I urge you to join me in voting in favor of this initiative.

Margaret H. Northup

  • Alex Giger

    Dear Readers,

    There are numerous problems with this upcoming Universal Background Check
    (UBC) Referendum. Below is a partial list of the consequences of this gun
    control proposal.

    1. The fact is that this would take away freedoms, and impose time and money
    costs, on Mainers who have traditionally exercised their private sale and
    transfer freedoms responsibly.

    2. The fact is that this referendum goes way beyond gun SALES, and also
    controls all but a few narrowly defined gun TRANSFERS.

    For example, loaning a gun for a couple of weeks to the trusted victim of
    domestic abuse for personal protection would require a trip to a gun dealer to
    process the “transfer” – both coming AND going.

    3. The fact is that police and prosecutors are already overburdened, and
    creating a whole new class of “victim-less crime” UBC “criminals” has no realistic chance of being fairly and uniformly enforced or prosecuted. Please see Portland Press Herald Letter to the Editor dated 02/11/16.

    4. The fact is that young people aged 18-20 would have a de-facto handgun
    ban imposed on them by this referendum; without any debate, due process, or
    discussion. Please see SUN JOURNAL Letter to the Editor dated 02/04/16.

    5. The fact is that former NYC Mayor Bloomberg is behind this referendum. He
    paid for the signature gathering, getting it on the ballot, and he will pay the
    millions to promote it via ads, direct mail, TV commercials, etc. He has made a
    mockery of the citizen’s initiative process in Maine.

    There are many other problems with the referendum, but I will leave the
    reader to ponder these five (5) concern areas on their journey to really,
    really understanding what this gun control referendum is about.


    Alex Giger
    Naples, ME

    • Alex Giger

      Dear Readers,

      The proponents of this Universal Background Check are not telling you that it will result in a de-facto handgun ban for 18-20 year olds; with no discussion, no debate, or due process. This is a deceptive and insidious consequence of this proposal.

      Please read below a re-print of my SUN JOURNAL Letter to the Editor dated 02/04/16 for an explanation of why this is the case.

      Please see Washington Post article by David Kopel dated 11-05-15
      Please see DC Gun Rights article by Mike Stollenwerk dated 02-03-13


      There is “more than meets the eye” with the upcoming universal
      background check referendum. The public is not being told that passage
      would result in a de-facto ban on handgun ownership for Maine residents
      aged 18 to 20. Here is why:

      The federal Gun Control Act of 1968 requires that 18- to 20-year-olds buy
      handguns privately. Gun dealers are barred by that law from transferring
      a handgun to anyone under the age of 21.

      The NRA mounted a legal challenge to that, claiming that the 18-20-year-olds should be able to buy a handgun from a gun dealer. However, in 2012, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 5th Circuit ruled against the NRA since 18- to
      20-year-olds had the option to buy handguns through private sales.

      However, if voters pass the referendum, private gun sales will become much more difficult to do legally, effectively shutting the door on handgun
      purchases by those people who are 18 to 20 years old.

      The referendum is an insidious and deceptive way to take away the rights of
      young people in that age group. They deserve to have their civil rights
      protected, not stripped away in an underhanded fashion.

      I now understand why the issue of universal background checks was rejected at
      the national level in 2013 and why Maine voters should reject it now in 2016.

      Alex Giger,
      Naples, ME

      • Alex Giger

        Dear Readers,

        If the voters were to pass the Universal Background Check referendum, it would effectively “gut” Maine State law with regard to handgun ownership and concealed carry rights for the 18-20 year old age group.

        This would represent a significant imposition of new gun control in Maine.

        Readers should be aware that persons 18 years and older can own handguns in Maine.

        Readers should be aware that persons 18 years and older can apply for a Maine concealed carry permit.

        The voters of Maine owe these young people an open and proper discussion / debate before stripping them of their civil rights by voting for this referendum.

        We need to learn from the experience in Washington State (via referendum) and Oregon (via legislation) that imposed this “back door” handgun ban when they implemented Universal Background Checks.

        We can do better for these young people in Maine.


        Alex Giger
        Naples, ME

  • Steve McNultry

    Let’s fix some factual errors Ms. Northup has made. 1) There is no Maine law requiring gun stores to do background checks for sales. That is a federal law (1968 Gun Control Act as amended by the Brady Handgun Violence Prevention Act of 1993) that requires a transferee of a gun to fill out a form 4473 and to have the NICS system approve the transfer before it is complete.) The 1968 GCA also required all dealers in guns to be licensed and it banned the sale of guns between private parties who live in different states. These federal laws do not apply to sales between citizens in Maine for a very simple reason…. and that reason cannot be called a loophole. The 1968 GCA and the Brady Law purposefully excluded private sales between parties who live in the same state because of the Constitution which only gives the federal government the power to regulate interstate commerce (Interstate Commerce Clause). The federal government cannot regulate INTRA-state sales, which is what a private sale between two Maine citizens is. So, let’s stop calling this a loophole, as a purposeful exclusion in order to not run afoul of the Constitution cannot be called a loophole. Let’s also stop spreading falsehoods and saying there is a Maine law where there is none. 2) This proposed Bloomberg’s Law does not just apply to sales as Ms. Northup claims. It applies to all transfers, weather they be temporary or not. This means that will be be a crime to loan your best friend a gun so they can hunt for the week-end with out first going to a gun store, having your friend fill out the 4473, get the NICS and pay a fee of $40 or more. Then when your friend is done hunting and wants to return the gun to you, you both must go to a gun store, and now you have to fill out the 4473, get the NICS and pay the $40 plus fee just to get your own gun back. How does this mess help fight crime and violence? While people like Ms. Northup will claim that there is a “reasonable exception” for hunting, the law makes it very clear what conditions must be met in order for that loan of a gun to friend can be legal. The temporary transfer of your gun to your friend must take place only where it is legal to hunt. Which means you must meet your friend where he plans to hunt and hand it to him them. His possession of that gun only continues to be legal if he is at a place where it is legal for him to hunt. Which means he cannot leave that area, get in a car and go to another area. You must also be present in the field when he is done hunting so you can take the gun back. He cannot drive that gun to your house and give it back to you. How reasonable does that exception sound to you? So.. before you believe Ms. Northup, I strongly urge you to read the laws I cited and to read the proposed law so that you can verify what I say to be the absolute truth and to see exactly how misinformed Ms. Northup is. I am sure she means well, but if you read the laws.. you will find just how uninformed she in on this law. Vote NO against Bloomberg’s Law… it will only turn good Maine citizens into criminals for being good friends.