Letter: Support background checks for all gun sales

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Mainers want to see common-sense steps forward in the laws governing gun sales in our state. On Jan. 19 the secretary of state’s office was presented with more than 80,000 signatures in support of an act designed to reduce gun violence in Maine. With at least one signature from nearly every town or city in the state, this effort represents the broadest possible cross section of Maine residents and includes gun owners as well as members of the National Rifle Association.

No single policy can prevent every tragedy. This measure, however, will save lives in Maine. Research clearly shows that criminal background checks work. Since the current system went into place in 1998, background checks have prevented nearly 2.5 million gun sales to criminals and other dangerous people.

Unfortunately, federal law does not go far enough. Guns continue to fall into dangerous hands due to a loophole that allows unlicensed, private sellers to sell guns with no background check required. This is commonly done online, at gun shows, or through classified ads. And make no mistake, criminals are taking advantage, flocking to private sellers to buy their guns. To me, and 80 percent of all Mainers, this is simply unacceptable.

Let’s make Maine the 19th state to close this loophole and protect our communities from senseless gun violence. I encourage you to support this initiative to require background checks for all gun sales.

Philip Jones
Yarmouth

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  • areyoukiddingme

    Have you actually read the proposed statue? I’m guessing not or you wouldn’t write this. Have you seen any research that suggests that it will affect Maine’s gun violence rate. I’m guessing not on that either given your letter. For the record there is NOT a single research that shows this proposed law would affect Maine’s exceedingly low (and declining) gun homicide rate.
    But what it will do for the most part is make common everyday actions like loaning a gun to a friend during hunting season illegal and turn everyday Mainer’s into criminals. Its poorly drafted and if you know anything about guns (which, of course I will concede to you), nonsense.

    • Guest

      A “statue” is going be put in place? “Mainer’s?” “Its poorly drafted?” If you knew anything about grammar, I’m guessing you wouldn’t have written your post. It’s an embarrassing demonstration of the correlation between pro-gun zealots and poor education.

      • areyoukiddingme

        I guess the forecaster did not like my initial reply. But let’s get to the point. I’ve written lots of things over my life that ultimately have ‘grammar’ issues (even if the resulting message is plainly understandable by normal people). Sadly most of the online world has the same situation as correcting your hastily written posts is sometimes problematic. That your response focuses on a few spelling/grammar issues (by way I’m not responsible for the spell correction dictionary on this site) is simply a sign of pedantic (note big rarely used word) behavior, some obsession or worse. Maybe we should compare CV’s? Mine has several degrees? Does that have any influence on this discussion? Not that I can see? Is there some research you can provide me on the level of education and position on gun issues. I’d like to see it.

  • EABeem

    The Secretary of State in Maine has approved the following petition for the elimination of private sales of firearms in the Pine Tree State. Of course that’s not what it’s proponents are saying, but under the proposed law the federal government would have to recognize all firearms sales before any sale would be legal. It would require that the State keep records on the firearm and the purchaser, and turn over such records to the federal government. This is the elimination of private sales; once the transaction must be pre-approved by the government and records kept, the sale is no longer private. Check out the wording here, or make the jump for the text . . .

    Be it enacted by the People of the State of Maine as follows:

    Sec. 1. 25 MRSA §2014 is enacted to read:

    §2014. Background checks for firearms sales and transfers

    1. Definitions. As used in this section, the following terms have the following
    meanings.

    A. “Corrections officer” has the same meaning as in section 2801-A, subsection 2.

    B. “Family member” means husband, wife, domestic partner, parent by blood, parent by adoption, child by blood, child by adoption, sibling by blood, sibling by adoption, grandparent, grandchild, niece, nephew, aunt, uncle, first cousin, father-in-law, mother-in-law, son-in-law, daughter-in-law, brother-in-law, sister in-law, stepfather, stepmother, stepson, stepdaughter, stepbrother, stepsister, half brother, half sister or intimate partner.

    C. “Firearm” has the same meaning as in Title 17-A, section 2, subsection 12-A.

    D. “Firearm dealer” means a person who holds any federal firearms license under 18 United States Code, Section 923(a) (2015).

    E. “Intimate partners” means individuals in a dating relationship who are currently living with each other.

    F. “Law enforcement agency” has the same meaning as in section 3701, subsection 1.

    G. “Law enforcement officer” has the same meaning as in section 3701, subsection 3.

    H. “Person” means an individual, corporation, partnership, firm, trust, organization or other legal entity.

    I. “Sell” has the same meaning as in Title 17-A, section 554-A, subsection 1, paragraph C.

    J. “Transfer” has the same meaning as in Title 17-A, section 554-A, subsection 1, paragraph A.

    K. “Transferee” means a person who receives or intends to receive a firearm in a sale or transfer.

    L. “Transferor” means a person who delivers or intends to deliver a firearm in a sale or transfer.

    M. “Unlicensed person” means any person who is not a firearm dealer under this section.

    2. Background checks required for all sales and transfers. Except as provided in subsection 8, each sale or transfer of a firearm occurring in whole or in part in this State between unlicensed persons must be preceded by a background check on the transferee and an unlicensed person may not sell or transfer a firearm and an unlicensed person may not receive a firearm without complying with the process described in this section.

    3. Background check conducted by firearm dealer. When both parties to a prospective sale or transfer of a firearm are unlicensed persons, the transferor and transferee shall meet jointly at a firearm dealer and request that the firearm dealer facilitate the sale or transfer. A firearm dealer who agrees to facilitate a sale or transfer under this section shall process the sale or transfer as though selling or transferring the firearm from its own inventory to the transferee, complying with all requirements of federal and state law that would apply if it were making such a sale or transfer, including all background check and record-keeping requirements.

    4. No sale or transfer if failed background check. Neither a firearm dealer nor a transferor may deliver any firearm to a transferee if the results of the background check pursuant to subsection 3 indicate that the transferee is disqualified to possess firearms under state or federal law.

    5. Leaving dealer with firearm. Notwithstanding any other provision of law:

    A. This section does not prevent the transferor from removing the firearm from the premises of the firearm dealer while a background check is being conducted pursuant to subsection 3. Before the transferor sells or transfers the firearm to the transferee, the parties must return to the firearm dealer, who shall take possession of the firearm in order to complete the sale or transfer; and

    B. This section does not prevent the transferor from removing the firearm from the premises of the firearm dealer if the results of the background check pursuant to subsection 3 indicate that the transferee is disqualified to possess firearms under state or federal law.

    6. Reasonable fee. A firearm dealer who agrees to facilitate a sale or transfer
    pursuant to this section may charge a reasonable fee for services rendered.

    7. Completion of forms. A transferor and a transferee must each complete, sign and submit all federal and state forms necessary to process the background check and otherwise complete the sale or transfer pursuant to this section.

    8. Exceptions. The provisions of this section apply to the transfer or sale of a
    firearm between unlicensed persons except if:

    A. The sale or transfer is between family members;

    B. The firearm is a curio or relic, as defined in 27 Code of Federal Regulations, Section 478.11 (2015), and the sale or transfer is between collectors of firearms as curios or relics, as defined by 18 United States Code, Section 921(a)(13) (2015), who both have in their possession a valid collector of curios and relics license issued by the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives;

    C. The sale or transfer is of an antique firearm, as defined in 18 United States Code, Section 921(a)(16) (2015);

    D. The transfer is temporary and is necessary to prevent imminent death or great bodily harm, and:

    (1) The transfer lasts only as long as necessary to prevent such threat; and

    (2) The transferor has no reason to believe that the transferee is disqualified to possess firearms under state or federal law and has no reason to believe that the transferee intends to use the firearm in the commission of a crime;

    E. Either the transferor or the transferee is a law enforcement agency or the Department of Corrections or is, to the extent the person is acting within the course of the person’s employment or official duties, a peace officer, a law enforcement officer, a corrections officer, a member of the Armed Forces of the United States or the National Guard or the Reserves of the United States Armed Forces, a federal law enforcement officer or a person licensed as a security guard or employed by a contract security company or proprietary security organization under Title 32, chapter 93;

    F. The transfer is temporary, the transferor has no reason to believe that the
    transferee intends to use the firearm in the commission of a crime and the transfer and the transferee’s possession of the firearm take place exclusively:

    (1) At an established shooting range authorized by the governing body of the jurisdiction in which such range is located or, if no such authorization is required, operated consistently with local law in such jurisdiction;

    (2) At a lawfully organized competition involving the use of a firearm or for participation in or practice for a performance by an organized group that uses firearms as a part of the performance;

    (3) While the transferee is hunting or trapping if such activity is legal in all places where the transferee possesses the firearm and the transferee holds any license or permit required for such activity; or

    (4) In the actual presence of the transferor

    Any transfer allowed by this paragraph is permitted only if the transferor has no reason to believe that the transferee is disqualified to possess firearms under state or federal law or, if the transferee is under 18 years of age and is receiving the firearm under direct supervision and control of an adult, that such adult is disqualified to possess firearms under state or federal law; or

    G. The transfer occurs by operation of law upon the death of a person for whom the transferee is an executor, administrator, trustee or personal representative of an estate or a trust created in a will.

    9. Violations. Any person who knowingly delivers or receives a firearm without
    complying with this section commits

    A. For a first conviction involving the sale or transfer of one or more firearms, a
    Class D crime; and

    B. For a 2nd or subsequent conviction involving the sale or transfer of one or more firearms, a Class C crime.

    SUMMARY

    This initiated bill requires a background check before a firearm sale or transfer
    between individuals not licensed as firearm dealers. If neither party to a sale or transfer has a federal firearms license, the parties meet at a licensed firearm dealer, who conducts a background check on the transferee and completes the sale or transfer as though selling or transferring from the dealer’s own inventory. Exceptions to the background check requirement are made for transfers between family members, while the parties are hunting or sport shooting, for emergency self-defense, in the presence of the transferor and in other circumstances.

  • Irving Felker

    Mr. AEBeem is correct. This would make private sales a matter of record to both State and Federal agencies. Lets be clear, there is no loophole for the private sale of firearms. I would encourage anyone who is not clear on our current laws to visit the ATF website and educate themselves. It is my firm belief that the current laws are not actively enforced, and a more active enforcement of those current laws is a good place to start. If you want to sell a firearm, and you want to have a background check to complete the transaction, go to your local FFL and do it. Most FFL holders will be happy to complete the transaction, for a fee of course. This does not need to be a law but a personal choice.

    The Maine Constitution clearly states that no law may be enacted contrary to the Constitution of theses United States. To use a common quote, “What part of Shall not be infringed do you not understand”. I personally do not need to be on any more government lists than necessary.

    My larger concern, if this law is approved, is that an unintended black market is produced. There will be people that, as an act of civil disobedience, will not comply. In short be a responsible firearms owner when wanting to sell or purchase a firearm rather than having the government dictate what responsible is.