A yes vote on Question 3 in November would do a simple thing: establish in Maine law a requirement for background checks of gun buyers making private purchases within Maine. The law’s provisions would be virtually identical to those presently in federal statute applicable to purchases made from licensed gun dealers. Buyer and seller would go to a licensed dealer to obtain the background check. There are numerous, readily accessible licensed dealers, and the process is usually completed within minutes. Transfers between family members and in other special circumstances would be exempt.

Contrary to NRA exaggerations, this is far from an effort to repeal the Second Amendment. A yes vote would, rather, put Maine residents, and responsible Maine gun owners in particular, on the right side of keeping guns from criminals, domestic abusers and others who should not have them.

Would the law be unfailingly enforceable, and gun violence be ended? Probably not. But those who evaded the law would know that they were in punishable violation, as well as at odds with the expressed will of Maine’s majority.

As in states that have laws like those proposed in Question 3, we might also see decreases of almost 50 percent in gun suicides, as well as reductions in shootings of police officers and abused spouses.

Adoption of Question 3, then, would be a modest step at most. More needs to be done if we are not to see more children, more police officers, and other innocents lose their lives.

But yes on 3 would be a step forward, and an opportunity to give the NRA, with its fearmongering and fraudulent claims, a well-deserved political bloody nose. That organization and its distortions need to be repudiated. Here is a chance for Mainers to do that.

Ed McCarthy


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