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