Say “yes” to background checks

Across the United States, poll after poll shows strong support by American citizens for expanding background checks for gun purchases. At the statewide general election on Nov. 8, Maine voters will have a chance to weigh in on just such a proposal.

Question 3 on the referendum ballot asks whether Maine should require background checks prior to the sale or transfer of firearms between individuals not licensed as firearms dealers.

Exceptions would be made for transfers between family members, transfers while the parties involved are hunting or sport shooting, transfers for emergency self-defense and transfers of antique firearms or firearms that are curios or relics.

National polls conducted by Quinnipiac University, CBS/New York Times, the Pew Research Center and Gallup in 2015 consistently showed that as many as 90 percent of Americans support some form of expanded background checks for gun buyers.

Those polls cut no ice with opponents here in Maine who argue that out-of-state liberals, including Everytown for Gun Safety, a group founded by former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, are the primary backers of Question 3. But the citizen initiative to bring the measure before the voters was spearheaded by a group of citizens that includes Bucksport Police Chief Sean Geagan. And more than 85,000 Maine citizens from across the state signed petitions to place the proposal on the ballot.

Several Maine law enforcement officials have argued forcefully for the need to close the existing loophole in the law that allows individuals to easily and anonymously buy guns from strangers at gun shows, over the internet or through classified ads. Question 3 has the backing of the Maine Chiefs of Police Association. And Bucksport’s Geagan, a citizen sponsor of the measure, argues that “supporting the Second Amendment goes hand in hand with the responsibility to keep guns out of the hands of dangerous people. While no law can prevent every tragedy,” he said, “this ballot measure will help keep Mainers safe.”

We agree with Geagan and the police chiefs and urge a “yes” vote on Question 3 on Nov. 8.

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