Come November we have a chance to make our state safer by ensuring there are universal background checks on all gun purchases in Maine. This is nothing more than common sense, and according to numerous national polls, around 90 percent of people support this measure. Criminal background checks are now required for those buying from a licensed gun dealer, but anyone can circumvent this by buying over the internet or at a gun show.

This is an important step in addressing domestic violence in Maine. We know that in the past five years, 22 percent of those who failed a background check at a licensed dealer were blocked because of a history of domestic violence. Since the existing background checks have been in place, 1,200 domestic abusers have been denied purchase, but what we don’t know is how many of those just went online or to a gun show to buy after failing a background check. We do know that last year there were 21 homicides in Maine, and 14 were related to domestic violence. Six of the dead were children.

Background checks work. In states that require them for all handgun sales, there are fewer women shot to death by intimate partners, fewer law enforcement officers killed with handguns, less gun trafficking, and fewer gun suicides.

Support sensible gun safety at the ballot box this fall.

Sarah Shed


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