Letter: Gun-sale background checks will save lives

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What practical action can we take as responsible citizens to help prevent at least some wrongful shooting deaths of innocent victims?

On Jan. 19 the secretary of state’s office was presented with more than 80,000 signatures in support of an act for the 2016 ballot designed to reduce gun violence in Maine by requiring criminal background checks on all gun sales. This initiative would close a deadly loophole in the law that enables criminals, domestic abusers, and other dangerous people to buy guns.

With signatures from every town or city in the state, this effort represents the broadest possible cross section of Maine residents, and includes gun owners and National Rifle Association members.

There’s a common misconception that all gun sales already require a criminal background check under federal law. In fact, only licensed gun dealers are required to conduct background checks, leaving unlicensed private sellers free to sell guns to anyone with no questions asked. The background check initiative closes this loophole, requiring the same criminal background check for all gun sales in Maine.

No single policy can prevent every tragedy. This measure, however, will save lives in Maine. Research shows that criminal background checks work. Since the federal background check requirements took effect in 1998, background checks have prevented nearly 2.5 million gun sales to criminals and other dangerous people throughout the country.

I encourage you to support this initiative to require background checks for all gun sales. It is the least we can do.

Kate S. Debevoise

  • Alex Giger

    Dear Forecaster 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 the journey to really, really
    understanding what this gun control referendum is about.


    Alex Giger
    Naples, ME

  • Chew H Bird

    So illegal drugs are not accessible… A drinking age of 21 prevents minors from drinking. Minors never have cigarettes. Driver licenses keep unlicensed drivers off the roads. An unregistered vehicle is never seen on public streets.

    In my opinion, all background checks will truly accomplish is adding personal information to more government databases and drive up infrastructure costs when that money could be better spent (in my opinion) on assisting people in need of mental health services. Our country traded arms for hostages so until we clean up the government and help the mentally disabled none of the desired effect of gun will be realized. We need to start at the beginning so putting a band aid on a wound that requires stitches simply doesn’t work. This is feel good legislation that ignores the actual problems and will raise the cost of government while wasting the time of law abiding citizens.