In November Mainers will get to vote on a background-check ballot initiative.

Under federal law, background checks are required for gun sales conducted by licensed dealers. But in Maine there is no such requirement for sales between unlicensed sellers through online sales, classified ads or at gun shows. People can easily and anonymously buy guns from unlicensed sellers, no questions asked. This creates a loophole for criminals and other dangerous people — people who would fail a background check — to buy or trade guns.

This initiative would close that gap and require that everyone in Maine who buys a gun get the same instant criminal background check, no matter where they buy it or who they buy it from. This law won’t stop all gun violence — no one law can do that. But closing this loophole is a simple and common-sense step that will save lives. In fact, states with strong background checks have fewer firearm-related deaths.

I urge Maine voters to vote yes for background checks and take one small step to make our communities safer.

Susan Kistenmacher