Maine doesn’t need universal background checks. Our gun laws are strong enough
Maine already has strict firearm regulations. No fully automatic firearm may be possessed by anybody without registering it with the federal government. A federal background check is already required for all firearm purchases from federally licensed firearm retailers. Currently, anyone convicted of a felony ordomestic violence may not possess a firearm in Maine. It is already illegal for anyone to supply a firearm to a prohibited person. There is a fairly long list of places a citizen may not possess a firearm, such as schools, parks and government buildings.
No firearm may be discharged within 100 yards of a building without the landowner’s permission. Rifles and shotguns may not be carried loaded in or on any motor vehicle. We do not need a new, costly and ineffective law imposed on Maine’s law-abiding citizens who may want to give away, trade, loan, bequeath or sell their legal firearms.
The proposed universal background check law — Question 3 on the November ballot — is unnecessary and would be largely unenforceable as written. If this proposal became law, the only way the government could consistently convict a person in court of an illegal transfer of ownership without a background check would be if all firearms in the state were previously registered to their particular owners. Federal law prohibits the use of the National Instant Criminal Background Check System to create a gun registry. There is presently no law in Maine requiring the registration or licensing of firearms to their owners. So a universal firearm registration law in Maine would be next.
This likely would not be a ballot question. It would just be a law passed by the Legislature and signed by the governor to help implement the new background check law that was found to be unenforceable. After a new firearm registration law, the government would have a huge database of all Maine residents who own firearms along with a list of each firearm they own by serial number. This list could even be made public through our current freedom of information laws. In 2012, a newspaper in New York published an online map with the names and addresses of handgun permit holders in Westchester and Rockland counties.
Now there are many proposed lists of what types of firearms that some believe should be prohibited in the future. They range from firearms that look like military rifles to all handguns to pump-action shotguns commonly used for bird hunting and clay target shooting. The list of future banned firearms could change according to who happened to be in political office at the time. If the list of banned firearms were to be expanded, Mainers would have to turn over to the government, any newly banned firearms registered to them.
In 2015, I listened to our current president as well as one of our current presidential candidates speak favorably of Australia’s gun laws. In 1996, Australia implemented a massive registration and confiscation of firearms from its citizens. Many of the firearms confiscated by Australia’s federal government included the types of firearms that Mainers commonly use for hunting, target shooting and home protection.
We know there are powerful politicians who very much want us to travel down this slippery slope. Let’s not let it happen in Maine. Let’s concentrate on enforcing the existing gun laws we already have on the books. Vote no on Question 3 in November.
Mike Marshall of Big Lake Township is a retired Maine game warden.