Landmark gun ruling



To the Editor:

In June, Maine gun laws were upheld by the U.S. Supreme Court in a landmark decision. The court ruled that a person convicted of domestic violence under Maine law is absolutely banned from purchasing or owning a gun.

The defendants argued that their violence was only reckless and not intentional; therefore they were not covered by the federal law prohibiting gun ownership by the misdemeanor of domestic violence. Although the court’s decision was somewhat narrow, it is highly significant that it did not accept the “I didn’t mean to really hurt her” argument. Instead, it recognized that domestic violence is a major factor in the country’s “gun problem” that should be addressed in absolute, not qualified, terms.

The Maine Gun Safety Coalition (formerly Maine Citizens against Handgun Violence) described the decision as not only an important means of reducing domestic violence in Maine but more broadly as a significant precedent nationally. Maine long has been known for its common-sense and its independence, and it is a compliment to Maine lawmakers and voters that Maine law was the basis for this decision that will affect gun laws in every other state.

Maine Guides, Maine hunters and Maine gun owners are respected nationally for their understanding that guns belong in responsible hands only and that persons who act irresponsibly should not own them. The referendum that would extend background checks to all gun sales in Maine and that will be voted on in November has that same objective – to keep guns in responsible hands.

Domestic violence in Maine is one of the most common forms of gun violence and one of the most easily prevented. Domestic violence often occurs over a long period of time, and taking away the guns of the abuser at the first conviction very clearly will save lives.

This decision is an important step of many steps that must be taken to reduce gun violence, and we are proud of Maine’s role in this success.

 

Tom Franklin

President, Maine Gun Safety Coalition

Portland

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