The Universal Notebook: Questions about Question 3

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Last week I was waiting at the deli counter for some sliced cheese when a woman approached me and, with a look of horror in her eyes, whispered, “That man over there has a gun.”

Yes, I explained to her, in Maine it is perfectly legal to carry a firearm openly and you don’t even need a license or permit to carry a concealed weapon.

“That freaks me out,” the woman said.

People carrying guns make a lot of people nervous. After I got my order I went looking for the man with the gun to ask him to help us understand why he was carrying a gun in a grocery store, but he had left.

As the Nov. 8 referendum on universal background checks on gun sales approaches I have been asking a lot of questions about gun laws lately in an effort to better understand what is at issue.

The wording of Question 3 is pretty straightforward: “Do you want to require background checks prior to the sale or transfer of firearms between individuals not licensed as firearms dealers, with failure to do so punishable by law, and with some exceptions for family members, hunting, self-defense, lawful competitions, and shooting range activity?”

Polls indicate that between 60 percent and 70 percent of Maine citizens support universal background checks. It just seems like common sense. If we are going to require background checks for gun sales by licensed forearms dealers, why wouldn’t we require background checks for all gun sales?

These questions were discussed last week at the Choose Civility Election Series at Portland Public Library, where about 75-80 people packed the library’s auditorium to hear a point-counterpoint discussion that pitted two Maine men, both gun owners and both Republicans, against one another.

Bobby Reynolds, a retired Portland firefighter, former member of U.S. Sen. Susan Collins’ staff and now deputy director of Maine Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense, spoke in favor of Question 3.

“I don’t find it to be an inconvenience to make sure that I’m participating in a system that ensures that bad people can’t get their hands on guns,” Reynolds said. “As a responsible gun owner, you should embrace a system that bad people won’t get their hands on guns.”

David Trahan, director of the Sportsmen’s Alliance of Maine, spoke in opposition, voicing some of the concerns that opponents of universal background checks have that the wording of the law expands the definition of “transfer,” such that anyone loaning a gun to a friend would be subject to the hassle and expense of background checks both to loan a gun and to get it back.

“This law,” Trahan said, “creates thousands of ways in which people can be charged with crimes without ever doing anything wrong.”

Reynolds spoke for the 66,000 Mainers who signed the petition to get Question 3 on the ballot. Trahan spoke for the 10,000 SAM members, as well as members of several other hunting and trapping organizations, 40,000-50,000 in total. The pro and con breakdown of the library audience struck me as pretty even. So we’ll call the forum a draw.

Personally, I hope Question 3 passes, but I won’t be surprised if it doesn’t. Donald Trump is likely to get at least as many gun control opponents to the polls as the 2014 bear baiting referendum did. And there are legitimate questions about whether Question 3 will have unintended consequences.

For example, because federal law prohibits licensed firearms dealers from selling handguns to people under 21, requiring that licensed firearms dealers perform background checks for all private sales could mean that people 18-20 years old could no longer legally purchase a handgun in Maine. Or it could just be that licensed dealers would perform the background check without being considered the seller.

“This law could have been drafted very narrowly,” Trahan complained.

Under the proposed law, for example, “transfer” means “to sell, furnish, give, lend, deliver or otherwise provide, with or without consideration.” I asked Trahan, who supports existing background check requirements, whether his organization would support universal background checks if they applied only to gun sales and permanent transfers of ownership. If so, I told him, I might be persuaded to vote no on Question 3, in favor of a more narrowly-written law that simply did what most supporters believe it will do.

He couldn’t answer. He said he’d have to check with his board of directors.

Universal background checks are a good idea. The law proposed by Question 3 may not be the best way to achieve this, but it’s a start. And I’m sure whichever way the vote goes, we haven’t heard the last of universal background checks.

Freelance journalist Edgar Allen Beem lives in Brunswick. The Universal Notebook is his personal, weekly look at the world around him.

  • Chew H Bird

    The difficulty I have as a person who doesn’t hunt or own a real gun (assuming my pellet gun doesn’t count), is the drill down to neighbors, or buddies, or friends, who trade, buy, and sell weapons within their circle. Gun ownership, in my opinion, is a constitutional right and the verbiage of this bill is not appropriate for the intent.

    As much as I may disagree with the positions of hard core gun rights people, this bill aligns too tightly with the desires of people wishing to take a step in the opposite direction.

    All the background checks in the world will not prevent many of the horrific accidents that occur due to poor choices by people, whether those choices be gun related or not. Additionally, a constitutional right is very different than a privilege granted by being of a certain age, like legally driving a vehicle on a public road for example, or legally having an alcoholic beverage.

    I guess I’m a bit concerned about the entire concept of background checks based on my experience and career in technology as often background checks do little to nothing to prevent a problem at the expense of inconveniencing and hassling many people who do not deserve to be inconvenienced or hassled.

    • EABeem

      The law behind Question 3 will have some unintended consequences, no question about it. But I don’t think it violates anyone’s constitutional rights.

      • areyoukiddingme

        EABeem, it has been my hope after many of our past discussions on guns where you have been pretty rational is that you can be convinced that Q3 is so bad that even you would vote against it. Imagine you can’t fly in or out of Maine with a gun. Pretty much kills anyone flying here for a hunting trip. Imagine that as a firefighter you can’t legally remove a gun from a burning house. Imagine as a paramedic you can’t temporarily store the gun of a potential suicide victim. Imagine as a gun owner you can’t realistically loan your gun to a friend (let’s have the same for cars since they kill lots of people). Imagine an even worse world where you can’t even loan a gun to a friend while you are actually hunting. Imagine you have a friend who needs a gun to defend herself from a bad situation, loan a gun. nope not possible. The list of what’s wrong with this as drafted is extremely long. I, for one, have no issue of the idea of background checks on sales but that’s not what’s up for the vote.

        • EABeem

          While I understand your concerns, I do believe you have overstated the problems. As you can see from the exceptions below, several of your hypothetical are covered. I also think the legislature will be able to revise the law to fix any unintended consequences. But I do agree that, as written, the law is problematic.

          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.

          • Chew H Bird

            There is a select group of people who will make piles of money if this passes. Those people are lawyers. I strongly predict many of the people who will be negatively impacted if this passes will be relying on state funded lawyers, (at taxpayer expense).

            This item should be removed from the ballot until it has at least some basis in common sense.

          • Trey Brakefield

            Show me where almost ANY of areyoukiddingme’s examples fall into those exceptions.

            There are NO exceptions listed for temporarily transferring your gun to an airline attendant (as would be needed when checking a bag with a gun in it).

            There are NO exceptions for firefighters to remove guns from a house.

            There are NO exceptions for a paramedic (or anyone else for that matter) to remove or temporarily hold a gun for someone struggling with depression or suicidal thoughts.

            There are NO exceptions for loans between known-non-prohibited friends (even for responsible behavior like safe-keeping while on vacation, deployed, etc.).

            We can agree or disagree on whether UBGCs on GUN SALES are good or not but it’s very clear this initiative is NOT the way.

            If this was the first attempt at a law like this, I might could give the drafters a pass for being short-sighted. However, since this is at least the 3rd iteration of this law (I-594 in Washington state and the carbon-copy UBC law passed in Oregon) where ALL of these same issues were brought up before, it’s clear, at this point, the drafters’ INTENTIONS are to have these broad new criminal offenses related to otherwise harmless, common, gun-owner activities. Therefore, you can no longer claim “The law proposed by Question 3 may not be the best way to achieve this, but it’s a start.”

          • Just Sayin’

            Any of them? How about Paramedics or others taking a gun to protect someone with suicidal thoughts?

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

            Sure seems like a match to me.

            I also question the legal status of the transfer to an airline attendant. They’re handling your bag, but it’s not like they’re handling the gun. I’ll admit I don’t know how the law currently handles it, but it seems like interstate travel and airlines has it’s own guidelines already for handling firearms, and I’m not sure this law supersedes them.

            And firefighters removing guns from a house? Can anyone with firefighting experience speak to if that ever happens? I would think in a building on fire priorities would be on removing any living people/creatures and putting the fire out. If a firefighter came upon a bunch of weapons I would expect him to evacuate over the risk of having likely stores of ammo/gunpowder in the area rather than to scoop up guns and carry them outside.

            Also, on the transfer to friends. I wouldn’t hand my guns over to anyone else just because I was going on vacation for a week or two. I’d keep them locked up at home, or in a storage locker if need be. If I were deploying or going away for a longer time and wanted someone to look after them for me, a little paperwork isn’t such a big deal.

            Now, I don’t think this is a perfect law by anyone’s eyes, but it sure seems like people are having to stretch a ways to come up with scenarios they object to.

          • Trey Brakefield

            “How about Paramedics or others taking a gun to protect someone with suicidal thoughts?

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

            Sure seems like a match to me.”

            Except it’s not because the rest of the statement continues with ” … The transferor has no reason to believe that the transferee …”.

            In that case, the transferor is not making a voluntary transfer, therefore that qualifier fails, therefore that exemption fails. That’s the problem with all of these exemptions. They are so narrowly written that they effectively aren’t exemptions.

            In fact, even the hunting exemption is written so narrowly as to be useless. There is NO exception in the initiative for lending a gun FOR hunting. There is only an exception for lending a gun WHILE hunting (and only if hunting is legal in ALL places the transferee has possession of the borrowed gun).

            “I also question the legal status of the transfer to an airline attendant.”

            The initiative includes ALL non-exempt transfers and transfer “means to sell, furnish, give, lend, deliver or otherwise provide, with or without consideration.” in Maine law. Therefore, delivering (or furnishing) the attendant your bag IS a transfer. Since non-exempt in the initiative, you and the attendant would need an FFL to sign off on the “transfer”. Likewise, every other attendant handling your bag would need the same.

            “Also, on the transfer to friends. I wouldn’t hand my guns over to anyone else just because I was going on vacation for a week or two.”

            Just because you wouldn’t doesn’t mean that applies to everyone. Most people I know that this would apply to own only a gun or two that they keep for home defense. Therefore they can’t justify a several hundred pound, bolted to the floor, gun safe. For those in apartments or rental homes, bolted-to-the-floor is forbidden anyway. I’ve stored guns for friends like this more times than I can recall. Are you really going to say that gun rights only apply to those that can afford a several thousand dollar safe (to contain their $200-400 gun) and own their own home where they can secure it from theft?

            It’s no stretch at all to find exactly how broadly this law applies and how narrow the few enumerated exceptions are.

            My point is: these objections have been brought up on every previous version of this law being implemented elsewhere. It would be simple for the drafters to fix these issues but they’ve intentionally NOT done so.

          • Just Sayin’

            In the event that a paramedic took away a gun from someone so that they wouldn’t hurt themselves, it would seem perfectly applicable that the transferor, even if transferring unwillingly, has no reason to believe that the paramedic is going to be using the gun unlawfully.

            Also consider that in most cases, the paramedic is going to remain in the presence of the patient until either police arrive or they arrive at the hospital (Where police will be present). It’s perfectly legal for the patient to transfer the gun to another person as long as they stay in the presence of them. And of course, once police are present, they can take possession of the firearm(s) safely until the patient is fit to recover them.

            All I’m saying is that for a law that has yet to be passed or implemented there seems to be some wiggle room where people are trying to paint absolutes.

            On the airline issue, do we know for sure that it still counts as furnishing if one were to carry guns in a locked safe within your bag? It seems to me that would be a safe way of transporting guns without ever actually allowing anyone who handles them to have access, but I will admit not being sure if the law sees it that way. I will agree if they’ve truly criminalized such basic transport, then they’ve made a very poorly written law.

            For hunting, it doesn’t seem so onerous as long as you’re hunting together. If you want to lend a gun to a buddy for a couple of weeks so he can go hunting without you, yes, it does look like they want a background check. The goal is to make sure that the people who are going to be having guns at their disposal are supposed to, so if anyone can just lend their buddy a gun for an extended period with no checks it would be a toothless law.

            I get where you’re coming from though, it does seem like there should be ways to handle this with less hassle and expense. I daresay it would be much more convenient and efficient to have would be owners register for a ‘gun license’. As long as someone kept a valid gun license they could buy or borrow whatever guns they liked. People could verify a valid license with a simple call or online check rather than an expensive and time consuming background check. That would help ensure that guns aren’t going into the hands of felons or the mentally ill while not creating such a burden on responsible gun owners.

          • areyoukiddingme

            OK I’ll try and help since I wrote the original post.
            Q3 use existing State Law to define a “transfer” here you go “”Transfer” means to sell, furnish, give, lend, deliver or otherwise provide”

            The problem with your first example is the imminent part. Once you have the gun and not the patient you are now in violation of the law.
            You are providing the gun to the airline employee. About as simple as it gets. No more flying with guns. Federal law on transporting guns for flying is not a conflict here so Maine law would apply.

            I’m a firefighter personally, the example I gave has actually been a relatively common experience to me. Ammo itself is not dangerous in a fire, but loaded burning guns are. The simplest strategy when you find one in an area that is not yet burning is to remove it. Now illegal.
            Two points to your third point. Empty houses are a real target for thieves. So let’s pretend I prefer them somewhere else. You are a pretty average hunter and you own a couple of shotguns, a rifle or two and maybe a handgun. So that “little paperwork” will likely be $500 in transfer fees. WHY ON EARTH would you have to pay that to have a friend look after your guns why you are away. What possible benefit justifies that.
            This law is too far from workable when almost any everyday thing that gun owners do, and others do with guns is illegal.

          • Just Sayin’

            Okay, let’s be reasonable here. You claim that the exemption for taking a gun to prevent imminent harm becomes irrelevant the moment it’s been taken? That’s taking a ‘letter of the law’ look to the very limit of the extreme. If that were truly how it works, that entire exemption would be useless. Nobody really believes you could use it to stop someone from committing suicide, but then the danger would no longer be imminent so you have to -immediately- give it back to the suicidal person, only to take it away again if they try to off themselves? Please, that’s just ridiculous and doesn’t even bear arguing against.

            As I’ve responded to another person, with airline transfers I question whether a portable gun safe/case that can lock being placed within luggage might solve the legal issues here? I’m truly not sure on that though, and if it doesn’t then it’s a large flaw with the law.

            I appreciate you pointing out the realities of dangerous guns during a fire. I suppose that ammo is less dangerous without a barrel to channel the energy into the bullets, and I can see your point about needing to remove them. However, it still seems like that would be legal given the same:

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

            After all, guns going off in a fire could cause death or bodily harm, and nobody has reason to think that a fireman working to prevent that is doing so with illegal intent, etc.

            Lastly, the point you make about the expense that would come with being responsible with your guns is a good one. There are less expensive options, such as storage lockers, etc, but it does add a layer of expense for gun owners. Small expenses seem fair, but background checks are expensive and it does seem likely that some people would have to undergo them repeated times. With that in mind, it seems there could be more convenient and efficient ways to implement the safety concerns of this law. The best I can think of is to create a ‘gun license’, where someone passes a check to register for a gun licence, and as long as the licence is valid they can buy or borrow whatever guns they want.

            It would be far simpler and cheaper for vendors/lenders to call or otherwise check that someone’s licence is in good standing before a transfer, and could then be handled a lot more easily for everyone.

          • Trey Brakefield

            “After all, guns going off in a fire could cause death or bodily harm, and nobody has reason to think that a fireman working to prevent that is doing so with illegal intent, etc.”

            “intent” doesn’t matter when people are judged on the letter of the law. As have been pointed out to you, there are numerous (if not most) cases where gun owners lend or otherwise temporarily transfer guns with no “illegal intent” yet this law now makes those transfers (even when RESPONSIBLE transfers and when NO PROHIBITED PERSON was ever involved) illegal.

          • Just Sayin’

            You misunderstand. Let me post the full explanation of Exemption D:

            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;

            Clause #2 is what I was originally referring to about illegal intent. Now, in this case, the fireman is the Transferee, and we can see that it is part of the law that the Transferee must be someone that we have no reason to suspect of planning to use the guns in a criminal act. Clearly, a fireman removing guns from a burning building is doing so to prevent death or harm, and isn’t taking the guns because he’s going to go rob someone.. He’s too busy with a fire to put out!

            This seems pretty well cut and dried. If one can even assume a fireman taking someone’s guns is a ‘transfer’ by this law, it’s a fully exempted and legal one.

            The only other reasonable interpretation is that the fireman is taking the guns out of the house without the owner’s permission, so it wouldn’t qualify as a ‘transfer’ by the owner at all, but as some sort of temporary confiscation or moving of the guns by an emergency responder, and this law wouldn’t apply at all in the first place.

          • areyoukiddingme

            You keep trying to shape this law into something it isn’t. Each of the exceptions has a very severe limitation and you keep trying to say it can’t possible mean that, but it does. . The key problem in the exception you quote is the inclusion of the word ‘imminent’ and the phrase “lasts only as long as necessary. That’s a severe legal limitation. It means that the exception applies at that moment only, in an impending way. And it last only until it can be cured. The court cases on this will be many to establish the boundary of the timeliness of necessary in case law. Its just plain bad drafting (maybe intentional) and we should not tolerate that in Statue’s.

          • Just Sayin’

            We both seem to be interpreting this law quite differently, but I assure you that my definitions fit within the scope of the letter of the law, and is in fact far less slavish to unwritten expectations that you seem to think are implicit.

            If someone is suicidal, allowing them possession of a gun places them in imminent harm, this remains true until they are no longer suicidal. You’re suggesting that the paramedic could only hold the gun for a second after taking it away, and then have to give it right back, or in the case elsewhere in the thread, that a firefighter removing guns from a burning building because of the threat, would immediately have to return the guns TO the burning building once outside, because the threat was no longer ‘imminent’.

            This is a logical absurdity, sir. No court in the land would enforce this law as such. You accuse me of trying to twist the wording of the law, when it is you distorting the truth.

          • areyoukiddingme

            I never suggested the kind of ping pong you are implying. I fully agree with you that is not what the law requires. The exemption has two component parts, imminent and then only as long as necessary. In either of these examples imminent ceases quickly so the question that is left is what is as long as necessary. So the gun has been removed from the house, the fire is out, the the FF are packing up and leaving. Now what? Is the next action that’s required to find someone else legally to take the gun (at 2am in the morning)? The problems with this law are many as the drafting leaves much to be desired.

            If you don’t like these examples try some of your everyday tasks but substitute gun in the task. Ship a gun yourself back to the manufacturer for repairs (now legal) won’t be after Q3. Etc. Etc. Bad drafting makes for bad law.

          • Just Sayin’

            You were so focused on the “imminent” part of the drafted law that it certainly seemed to be what you were implying.

            In the case that you raise, it seems clear to me that after the firefighter removed the firearms as an agent of the city, that the imminent ends quickly but would continue to hold it as long as necessary, and in that case it would be until they can give it back to the legal owner. This may take minutes if the owner is present and able to take them, or may take quite a while if the owner is not present or was injured in the fire, etc.

            Once again, I still question whether giving someone a sealed box containing a gun for transport falls under this law or not. Or, while a minor inconvenience, it would be entirely possible to remove a key part or two from a gun and ship it separately back to the manufacturer rather than sending it as a complete weapon.

            I agree that this law could be drafted better to be convenient for gun owners, and I have in fact suggested what I think is a better alternative elsewhere in this thread. That being said, I do not think that this law is anywhere near as draconian as your hyperbolic statements make it out to be.

          • areyoukiddingme

            First as a firefighter I am not a law enforcement officer so that exception is not available and being an ‘agent’ has no standing in this law. I don’t think its actually what the law says but I actually hope that your view will be adopted by the courts and they find a sealed box is not a transfer. Otherwise IMO ALL commerce in firearms in Maine stops since USPS, UPS and Fedex all transfer boxes between people while moving goods (including firearms). But unfortunately it will take a court case and the attendant time to sort that out as a result of truly bad drafting.

            As to your parts separation unfortunately existing maine law (that defines a gun) says you can’t just remove a part and have it not be a gun. FWIW>

          • Chew H Bird

            The bottom line is people wishing to do harm to others will find ways to obtain weapons outside of legal channels. I do not see how this proposed legislation will do anything to resolve that problem. What I do see are lawyers making a lot of money, the state collecting additional fees, and law abiding gun owners having more hurdles to navigate, and an overall disrespect for this law should it be enacted. Creating laws that are disrespected often has the effect of diminishing the importance of the concept on which the law was framed.

          • EABeem

            So, and I am serious when I ask, do you believe that all background checks are useless and should be eliminated?

          • Chew H Bird

            I think it is fair for a basic background check when purchasing a gun from a dealer, gun show, or authorized sales location. Establishing no criminal record or legally required reason that a person can not own a firearm is fine with me. This type of reminder of responsibility helps keep honest people honest.

            I am against intrusive checks which can be interpreted in different ways.

            And, if two friends want to sell, swap, or trade guns they shouldn’t have to go through this type of BS.

          • Just Sayin’

            Pardon me, you seem to contradict yourself here..

            >Establishing no criminal record or legally required reason that a person can not own a firearm is fine with me.

            >And, if two friends want to sell, swap, or trade guns they shouldn’t have to go through this type of BS.

            How do you know that the friend buying guns doesn’t have a criminal record or other reason making it illegal for him to posses a firearm? Why should someone buying from a friend, (Or someone they just met, or found on craigslist, etc..) not have to pass the same legal checks that any other gun purchase would need to go through?

          • Chew H Bird

            Getting married is a “right”, however there is still a license that has to be filled out and eligibility to be married confirmed. If someone wants a spiritual wedding only (not legally registered) they are free to have it.

            I think of this as the same type of thing. We are supposed to have a presumption of innocence in our legal system. If the majority of gun owners were violent this debate would be far different.

            While I think it ridiculous that someone would want to openly carry a gun into a store or restaurant, (fashion statement?), I find it also foolish to establish a regulatory infrastructure that will create disrespect for the law and place otherwise law abiding citizens in a position of breaking the law. The lawyers will have a field day with the way this proposed legislation if drafted.

          • Just Sayin’

            I think I understand what you’re saying here, and in general I agree. It’s interesting that you bring up marriage licences, as it leads into a discussion of what I see as a better approach.

            What if prospective gun owners had to get licensed as legal gun owners? That is to say, someone could pass a background check the first time and get a licence. At that point they would be approved to purchase, own, and borrow guns. If they were found guilty of a felony or became illegible to own guns for any reason, that licence could be revoked.

            It would be far less invasive and costly for any gun sale to simply check that someone was still properly licensed to be a gun owner. It would take FAR less work to check that someone has a valid licence than it would to run a background check. It might be as simple as an online check or phone call, and still prevents guns being sold to people who should not have them.

            Would that not be a better approach? I wouldn’t mind if TSA employees had to be in good enough legal standing to get a gun license, and the same for firefighters, and I would support people like that getting state-funded licences so that it wasn’t a financial burden on them.

          • Chew H Bird

            If we can convince the two extremes, those that support automated weapons for all and those who want all guns eradicated, then you and I may have just come up with a solution to a major political issue. While the constitution purists may have an issue with needing a license, if obtaining it were necessary (such as a marriage license) and was a perpetual license unless revoked through violent criminal activity, then maybe we have a solution… I would buy into it and I’m the type of person that generally doesn’t care for regulation…

          • Just Sayin’

            The convincing of everyone is a tough goal, but if it could be done it would be wonderful to see.

            Personally, I’m not sure I’d agree that I want a perpetual license, but I can see the argument. If I were the one writing the law, I would base it as something similar to a driver’s license, where after several years you need to renew it, preferably by including a very basic test to show that someone knows (and hopefully follows) responsible practices of gun use and maintenance.

            I’m perfectly happy with everyone utilizing their right to own a firearm, but I like the license idea as one to make sure that they’ve been taught to properly handle a gun, and renewal will help catch mistakes and keep people current in the case of changing gun technologies or laws. This satisfies safety and personal responsibility desires from one side, while still providing a convenient method for people who want guns to be able to get, handle, use, and loan them to other people who will be able to handle the responsibility.

            I’m sure there will be some who object, but it’s about the best middle road solution I’ve been able to come up with.

          • EABeem

            I have a friend who is an attorney, an NRA member, a firearms instructor and a very reasonable fellow. He tells me he could craft a background check law that would do the trick without alienating gun owners, possibly allowing people to just go online to get cleared to sell weapons. Part of his being reasonable is that he recognizes that gun owners should be qualified, trained in both the use and the laws surround the use of firearms. A gun license sounds like a good idea to me.

          • EABeem

            That’s pretty much my thinking as well. I don’t think any responsible persons should object to background checks on all gun sales, but I understand that the proposed law creates a lot of awkward situations around “transfers.” I will vote Yes and hope that the wrinkles can be ironed out after it passes, but I have a feeling No will win.

          • OHJonesy

            Voting Yes and hoping the wrinkles can be ironed out later is how we ended up with this utter failure we call ObamaCare.

            Let’s craft smart legislation from the beginning, not half-assed measures that require fixing. Unfortunately that requires intelligent politicians, a commodity we’re in woeful short supply of.

            I’m interested in learning more of what your attorney-friend has in mind. I am vehemently opposed to “licensing” a constitutional right, but my state of Ohio just passed a law that my concealed carry permit is now my background check – if I show it at a gun dealer when buying a new gun, they can waive the check.

            Honestly, I’m not sure I completely support that either – I don’t mind the background check every time. And if this concept of a “license” can be used in a similar way, so that government secretly attempting to build a registry cannot happen, perhaps I could be swayed.

          • GAU-8

            My simple question is this: suppose the law is passed, and goes into effect Jan 01, 2017. On Jan 02 the police find me in lawful possession of a used gun, so there is no gun crime to charge me with, prove I bought that gun Jan 02 without a background check.

          • EABeem

            Yes, the law as written is probably unenforceable. No way to prove who owns most guns. And I doubt law enforcement will be trying to ride herd on people loaning hunting rifles to each other either. The only thing the law really foresees is a background check on all sales.

          • GAU-8

            It can’t even enforce a background check on all sales. Any used gun manufactured before the date of the law, out of state purchases. The problem with the law is that while the tag line “stop dangerous people” sounds nice its unenforceable, and the real intent is to move the ball closer to 100% registration.

          • OHJonesy

            Yet you are endorsing an unenforceable and poorly written law with admittedly “unintended consequences” that will do nothing to stop criminals from acquiring firearms, yet possibly turn a class of otherwise law-abiding citizens into felons should police decide to enforce the letter of the law and “ride herd on people loaning hunting rifles to each”.

            Shouldn’t you be endorsing a better written law, and telling your readers to defeat this deeply flawed proposal?

          • EABeem

            I am voting Yes on 3 in the hopes that it can be revised if it passes, which I doubt it will. 2nd Amendment advocates should have proposed a better written law, but just like Republicans don’t have a better health care plan, I doubt 2nd Amendment advocate have a better universal background check law that all gun owners would support.

          • OHJonesy

            Yet better proposals have been made, all of which were ignored by the mainstream media and Bloomberg’s followers.

            I gave you one, which is not a new one – “Unilateral Background Checks”. You seem to be ignoring that just like the rest of the anti-2nd Amendment crowd.


            You seem to be blaming 2nd Amendment advocates for not proposing better ideas, which you have ignored anyway. Can you understand why we might question your sincerity?

          • EABeem

            I am making a sincere effort to understand Q3 and so far it seems to me that the “transfer” issues can be fixed. I am not aware that Gunowners of Maine or SAM or anyone else has proposed unilateral background checks in Maine.

          • OHJonesy

            But again, you are endorsing to your readers imperfect legislation that does not prevent criminals from getting guns, but stands to make felons out of otherwise law-abiding citizens.

            I strongly doubt Bloomberg has any intention of “fixing” the transfer issues he intentionally wove into this sham. He and his money will resist any attempts to change it.

            Like any law-abiding citizen, I support getting guns away from criminals and the mentally ill. This legislation will accomplish neither of those goals, and endorsing it in the vague hopes that it can be fixed at some future date, is a disservice to your readers, and to the law-abiding citizens of your state.

          • EABeem

            Sorry you feel that way. I also support Obamacare in the hopes that it can be revised to fix problems with it. I do not believe that if it were repealed, Republicans would propose something better just as I don’t think that the NRA would ever support any form of background checks. Unlike many Yes on 3 voters, I understand what is wrong with it and I believe it can be fixed.

          • OHJonesy

            Well, as I stated previously (and you agreed with), a universal background check is unenforceable without a registration. It’s an honor system, and even if you believe there is “honor among thieves”, I can assure you, criminals will not register their firearms.

            I clearly addressed the registration issue already, so if you’re accusing me of not “admitting to be afraid of registration”, perhaps you’re just not paying enough attention.

            Is that your intimate goal, then? Do you aspire to require gun owners to register their firearms? If so, do you understand why most will refuse to do so?

          • EABeem

            The majority of Americans do support the registration of firearms, but I understand why some gun owners oppose registration. No, my support for Q3 has nothing to do with registering guns. It’s as simple as, If we are going to have background checks at all then we should have them for all sales. Sales, not transfers, loans, gifts, etc. Unless you are saying we should not have background checks at all, then I don’t think we’re that far apart. It’s just a question of how to go about it. Yes, you have suggested unilateral background checks, which might be a better way, but has any group seriously pushed such an initiative in Maine? Anywhere?

          • OHJonesy

            No, we’re not far apart – as I said, I completely support background checks on new gun purchases, and I would agree to background checks on private sales with these constraints:

            (1) It needs to be free – if government can add taxes and fees, they will have an incentive to place private sales out of reach for many.
            (2) A UBC should also be available to me over my smart phone or laptop. For some people, a trip to an FFL is an hours drive or more.
            (3) It covers ONLY sales, not gifts, not loans or inheretance to friends or family, or other such “transfers”.
            (4) It cannot be used as a backdoor registration scheme. This is why I strongly endorse the Unilateral Background Check. I disagree with your claim that most Americans want gun registration, and certainly most gun owners do not. If there’s one thing the Canadian experience with gun registration should have taught us, it’s that it is an expensive waste of time and money.

            Still, it needs to be understood that a UBC only keeps already honest people honest, but is no hurdle for criminals who seldom get guns from private owners anyway.

            “Fewer than 2% of handguns and well under 1% of all guns will ever be involved in a violent crime. Thus, the problem of criminal gun violence is concentrated within a very small subset of gun owners, indicating that gun control aimed at the general population faces a serious needle-in-the-haystack problem.” – Gary Kleck

          • EABeem

            Sounds reasonable to me. Has anything like this ever been proposed statewide?

          • OHJonesy

            Sorry for the delay in getting back to you, sometimes the job makes unreasonable demands. 🙂

            To the best of my knowledge, no, this concept has never made it to the voters. The idea of Unilateral Background Checks was proposed over 15 years ago, but meets opposition from certain government agencies.

            Some theories say that’s because government does not want to relinquish power, including the ability to build backdoor gun registration lists. This writer, Alan Korwin, makes a good case for the resistance Unilateral Background Checks (he calls it BIDS) has experienced –


            The system, designed and described 15 years ago by Brian
            Puckett and Russ Howard, is elegant—and far cheaper than what we have now. It eliminates the odious gun-registration scheme that has always been central to the NICS master plan, which generates most (but not all) of the resistance.

            The Blind Identification System (BIDS), designed to replace NICS, is described in detail and linked on the home page at (BIDS v. NICS).

            The FBI has little interest in the BIDS system for unilateral checks because it represents a huge reduction in their power. BIDS
            would cost 90% less because the Justice Dept. wouldn’t need the expensive army of FBI staffers who do the checking. Our firearm stores would simply do it when they make sales.

          • EABeem

            But the FBI would still compile and maintain the list, right? In any event, my guess is Q3 will lose in a close one. And if it does, someone should propose BIDS. If it passes, I’m sure it will need to be revised to be enforceable.

        • Geralt_0f_Rivia

          Good points.

        • OHJonesy

          Well said, I agree with all your points.

          There’s one more I would add – this law, if passed, will do absolutely nothing to stop criminals from getting guns. Zilch. It will become a huge burden on the law-abiding, who may easily be ensnared without realizing they’re breaking the law. Yet very few criminals get their guns via private sales, and will skirt this law with ease.

          This is just another leftist law that is intended to burden the law-abiding gun owner. Nothing more or less.

      • OHJonesy

        While I agree on the constitutionality of the law, I don’t think it solves any problems, either. It is nothing more than another attempt to burden the rights of the law-abiding gun owner, while making it no harder at all for a criminal to acquire a firearm.

        It’s exceedingly rare for a criminal to attempt to buy a firearm from a private seller to begin with. If Bloomberg and his minions are looking to keep guns out of criminal hands, there’s far better places to start.

        But I, and many others, don’t believe that is their goal at all.

        • EABeem

          So, do you think we should eliminate background checks entirely?

          • OHJonesy

            Absolutely not, I have no problem with background checks on new gun sales. Firstly, new guns are only sold by licensed sellers, so that is far easier to control.

            But in the case of private sales, it’s really an honor system without a gun registration. If you don’t know what guns I own, there’s no proving I sold the gun that the cops found in whatever crime scene. That’s the core of the issue; most gun owners will resist any registration schemes, and distrust UBC’s as a backdoor registration.

            History shows all gun confiscations began as an innocuous registration, and it’s impossible to register the 350+ million firearms in America anyway. Since the unconstitutional Clinton semi-auto rifle ban of 1994, gun owners have a strong distrust of government “gun control”, and rightfully so. Trusting government with a list of who owns what guns is just not going to happen.

            Another concern about universal background checks is the propensity of government to want to tack on extra taxes and fees, which will discourage compliance as well. I would consider UBC’s if (1) they are free, and (2) I can do one from my laptop or smartphone. But making people drive to the nearest FFL (for some, that might be 50 miles away), and pay $50 or more for a UBC is, again, going to discourage compliance. Why make felons out of normally law-abiding people?

            But back to your question – are you aware the federal government can’t even enforce the existing background check system? It’s true – few people are aware that government seldom prosecutes straw buyers or felons who lie on the Federal Form 4473. We prosecute them less than 5% of the time.

            Let me rephrase that: We let them walk over 95% of the time!!

            When this was brought to the attention of Vice-President Joe Biden during a meeting with the NRA, he said, “And to your point, Mr. Baker, regarding the lack of prosecutions on lying on Form 4473s, we simply don’t have the time or manpower to prosecute everybody who lies on a form, that checks a wrong box, that answers a question inaccurately.”

            That’s right: Biden said the administration just doesn’t have time or resources to prosecute crimes (felonies, punishable by up to a 10-year prison sentence) under existing laws. How are they going to enforce UBC’s?

            But, if I may ask you now, how about Unilateral Background Checks?

            Would you be open to that?

            “In a unilateral background check, instead of your gun store sending your name to the FBI, the FBI sends the list of prohibited people to your gun store. Just like wanted posters. This “Blind Identification System” (BIDS), described by Brian Puckett and Russ Howard in 2001, is linked on the home page at (BIDS v. NICS). It’s simple. It works. It’s a fraction of the cost of the current NICS data-gathering approach.”


            Bloomberg and his minions will likely resist this, because I still feel their goal is not to reduce crime, it’s to eliminate law-abiding gun owners. I’m interested in your thoughts on this.

          • “Divergent” sgthwjack ✯

            It’s a “miracle” the the country survived for over 200 years without any of this. Trusting government is not a survival skill, as history has illustrated, time and again. After all, it is “legal” for it to lie to us, but not the other way around.

          • OHJonesy

            Amen to that, Sarge. A government which does not trust its law-abiding citizens to be armed, is not itself to be trusted.

            This is nothing new, as you well know. Governments throughout history have attempted to disarm their subjects, not to reduce crime, but to protect . . . government!!

            “The people of the various provinces are strictly forbidden to have in their possession any swords, short swords, bows, spears, firearms, or other types of arms. The possession of unnecessary implements makes difficult the collection of taxes and dues and tends to foment uprisings.” — Toyotomi Hideyoshi, dictator of Japan, August 1588

          • OHJonesy

            You asked me a question last week, Mr. Beem, to which I answered, presented several points, and finished with a question back to you. I’m curious if you’re pondering your reply, or ignoring the hard questions?

          • EABeem

            I guess I missed your question entirely. I don’t know enough about unilateral background checks to know whether they would be better than NICS, but I am open to any efficient and constitutional system that might prevent the sale of guns to dangerous people.

          • OHJonesy

            I did include a link so you could learn more about unilateral background checks. I hope you can find the time to read it, I think it’s a worthy compromise.

            But no comment on any of my other points?

      • Real cool guy

        The constitution only guarantees certain rights. It does not grant any of them. Which explains my favororite amendment. Numero Nueve. Followed by number ten as councidence would have it.

        A background check is fine on the surface but… who decides the parameters of this retail purchase inspired investigation and exactly what are they!?

        An image of Ed confronting “the armed man in the grocery” in an effort to understand his reason for open carry is laughable. Pretending to defend the offended town girls honor “Oh, landsakes, I never…!” She says fanning her (fan).

        Typical bully tactics. The police already do that Ed. It’s designed to deter you from carrying and removing the ability to defend yourself and everyone at the grocery from a knife attack by yet another Muslim terrorist. Why? So that you need the state during ice storms and social unrest.

  • Jimmy_John67

    Good work this week Ed. You presented the situation relatively fairly with no name calling or gross generalizations then provided your viewpoint while also recognizing the concerns of those with the opposing view. When you write like this you function as an educator instead of a divider. Well done. No criticisms from me this week, just kudos. Have a good week.

    • Real cool guy

      Our constitution does NOT grant rights to anyone. And only certain rights are enumerated (identified & listed).

      If you dwell too much on constitutional law you miss the entire point. I believe amendment #9 explains it all very well.

      I fear social morality police like Ed and the Cumberland county perfumed hussy he was trying to impress at Whole pay check LLC.

      Incidentally whole pay check is now on board the monsonto GMO train wreck. Nice.

      • Jimmy_John67

        If you haven’t already I suggest you pick up the Sunday edition of the Press Herald. There was a 2 for 1 coupon for heavy duty tinfoil in there. Might come in handy for making your new hat.

        • Real cool guy

          This is an opinion piece that Ed wrote about how he imagined himself defending the honor of a Knowles Ins. perfumed troll that doesn’t understand why the vocational kid is open carrying and is becoming concerned.

          The only thing Edward left out was donning his tin foil hat you had taught him to make prior to engaging the armed bandito.

          Clearly he was white. Ed couldn’t confront a “minority”.

          Just out of curiosity (no tv here) did the devil wear red Prada again!?

        • Real cool guy



  • Charles Martel
    • Aliyah33

      Thanks for the link. I hope more people will read it. Btw, beachmom H had commented on a Letter to the editor by Peter Quesada, and she mentions the money funding this push for gun control is furnished by NYC’s former mayor Michael Bloomberg. Looks like he’s doing the same in other States, and many may be interested to know that the majority of NV’s law enforcement officers oppose it, and here’s why:

      “Attorney General Laxalt, Nevada’s chief law enforcement officer, joins the majority of Nevada sheriffs in opposition to the gun control measure that would prohibit virtually all private transfers and make it more difficult for law-abiding citizens to exercise their Second Amendment rights by imposing unlimited fees and increased bureaucratic paperwork. Nevada law enforcement officials agree that the gun control initiative would cost law-abiding Nevadans time and money but would not prevent criminals from obtaining firearms.”

    • OHJonesy

      OUTSTANDING essay in that link, thank you for sharing! Everyone needs to read that.

      That’s one of the best essays in support of our 2nd Amendment rights that I’ve ever read, and I’ve read many.

      It brings to mind an insightful piece from Ayn Rand’s book, “Atlas Shrugged” –

      “There’s no way to rule innocent men. The only power any government has is the power to crack down on criminals. Well, when there aren’t enough criminals one makes them. One declares so many things to be a crime that it becomes impossible for men to live without breaking laws. Who wants a nation of law-abiding citizens? What’s there in that for anyone? But just pass the kind of laws that can neither be observed nor enforced or objectively interpreted – and you create a nation of law-breakers – and then you cash in on guilt.”

      • goofy

        Excellent quote! And I’m seeing it everyday!

      • “Divergent” sgthwjack ✯

        Madison said much the same thing.

        “It will be of little avail to the people that the laws are made by men of their own choice if the laws be so voluminous that they cannot be read, or so incoherent that they cannot be understood.” James Madison

        • Geralt_0f_Rivia

          Definitely saving that one.

  • yathink2011

    Did you locate the guy carrying the gun? Maybe he was a Police Officer.

    • EABeem

      No. Possibly. I assumed he was just someone exercising his right to open carry and I had hoped he would, if asked, explain to us why he found it necessary to wear a gun. Most people don’t.

      • yathink2011

        I have an idea, how about you see if you can find some bank robbers, or gang members, and ask them the same question. And while you’re at it, why not ask Hillary Clinton why she finds it necessary to surround herself with people carrying guns, big ones, with lots and lots of rounds. I would be interested in her answer most.

        • EABeem

          Hillary Clinton, like all major political figures, has a security detail because there are crazy people out there. I was not criticizing the man. I was just interested in why he felt he should carry a gun. 99% of the people do not. He must be afraid of something. Or maybe he was a law enforcement officer.

          • yathink2011

            At least we agree that there are crazy people out there. Many people are afraid of crazy people. Which is why many people choose to carry, because their life is as valuable as Hillary Clinton’s, and many are probably more valuable. Where did you get the statistic that 99% of people do not carry? Most people who do carry, don’t let others know.

          • EABeem

            Exaggeration for emphasis. Most Americans (about 2/3) do not own a gun and most Americans (19/20) do not carry a gun. Only about 1/20 of Americans hold a concealed weapons permit. My point was simply that it is not common to see someone wearing a gun in public and I had hoped the gentleman would explain to us why he did.

          • areyoukiddingme

            I carry concealed 99+% of the time but sometimes I open carry, not very often. But the point for me is that it occasionally gives me an opportunity to explain to people who approach me that it simply isn’t any problem. I’ve had that interaction dozens of times and I feel that 100% of them were better informed of actual maine law, and are better off in managing their paranoia. I’m not saying they suddenly liked guns but at least they understood the law. If you know anything about guns an open carrier going about his business is a zero risk issue.

          • EABeem

            Which is exactly why I had hoped to have the man carrying openly explain himself to the woman in the market who was freaked out at the sight of an armed man. I believe most people consider an armed individual a threat rather than a protector.

          • Chew H Bird

            I remember riding my bile to school in 6th grade with my shotgun strapped to my back. In the late 1960s and early 1970s, and living in the boonies, it was common to go hunting before and after school and we were able to check our guns at the Principal’s office…

            While I would generally think it is silly and foolish to openly carry a weapon in a store in Maine, I bet there are plenty of tiny rural spots where this is not a problem. My real issue is why would someone intentionally do something that is known to be a problem for many people?

          • yathink2011

            You referring to the woman in the supermarket in Saco that slashed another woman’s throat? Would you have asked her to explain why she was carrying a knife?

          • yathink2011

            So the 99% was an exaggeration? Really? I’m surprised, as I would have expected an accurate figure from you. There is a big difference between open carry and concealed carry. Your point that it is not common to see someone wearing a gun in pulic is accurate. Open carry, while legal in many states, is offensive to many. Concealed carry has a different purpose.

          • yathink2011

            So I was just wondering, did you make up the person carrying a gun for “emphasis?” Sort of like fiction for emphasis?

          • EABeem

            Nope. Brunswick Hannaford. And, btw, 99% is not much of an emphasis. Only 5% (I in 20) of Americans hold a concealed weapons permit. I realize permits are no longer required in many places, but 95% of Americans do not hold concealed weapons permits and I’m guessing that many of those who do don’t actually carry all the time.

          • yathink2011

            Did you mean 99% isn’t much of an emphasis or much of an exxageration? There’s a small difference. So do you think Police Officers should carry concealed or give up their weapons altogether? They can be very intimidating.

          • EABeem

            I meant exaggeration. No, of course, I don’t think law enforcement officers should be unarmed. I do, however, believe anyone who carries a gun should have to pass a test and get a permit.

          • yathink2011

            Thank you for the clarification. So who would administer the test? One of the reasons the Constitution allows for the ownership of guns, apparently has something to do with the abuse of power by the Government.

  • EABeem

    I voted yesterday just in case Gov. LePage tries to stop people from voting after he jails his political opponents. I thought I was exaggerating when I called him a petty tyrant, but anyone who would seriously suggest that someone should be jailed for proposing to raise the minimum wage really is a would-be dictator. What a despicable individual!