Mainers know all too well that no community is immune from the tragic toll of gun violence. Last October, when 18 people were killed and 13 injured in a mass shooting in Lewiston, the gun violence epidemic was brought to our doorstep. As a consequence of unchecked access to guns, families were shattered and a community was devastated. In the wake of this tragedy, Mainers came together to call for more to be done to keep guns out of the wrong hands.

For the past seven years, I’ve volunteered with Moms Demand Action, working to promote responsible gun ownership and stronger gun safety laws in Brunswick and across Maine. As a grandmother and retired teacher, this work is personal. I am determined to build a future free from gun violence for my students and my six grandchildren. While this fight isn’t easy, we’ve seen that bipartisan progress to strengthen our background check system is possible both here in Maine and nationally. But at the federal level, the life-saving progress is in jeopardy and Maine’s lawmakers in Washington must once again stand strong for gun safety.

In 2022, following the mass shootings in Buffalo and Uvalde, Republicans and Democrats in Congress – including our own Sens. Angus King and Susan Collins – came together to pass the Bipartisan Safer Communities Act, which President Biden then signed into law. The first major federal gun safety law in almost 30 years, it allowed the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) to take a much-needed step to crack down on unlicensed dealers and gun sales conducted without background checks in order to reduce violent crime and gun violence: a new rule that makes clear that those who seek to sell guns for profit need to obtain a dealer license and, in turn, run background checks.

Thanks to ATF’s new rule, more unlicensed gun sellers will be required to become licensed firearm dealers and conduct background checks on their customers. Communities are safer when people who are unable to pass a background check, like individuals with felony convictions or domestic violence records, can’t get guns.

Further, thanks to this new rule, law enforcement will be able to more effectively combat gun traffickers who try to bypass the background check requirement by acquiring firearms online or at gun shows. The new rule will also enable law enforcement to thoroughly investigate more gun crimes.

But despite the strong bipartisan support for expanding background checks on gun sales, some lawmakers in Congress are still putting gun lobby priorities before the safety of our communities. After failing to stop the passage of the Bipartisan Safer Communities Act, gun lobby allies are working to overturn this new rule and turn back the clock on the life-saving progress we’ve made. They embrace the gun lobby’s extreme “guns everywhere” agenda that puts profit before public safety – no matter the deadly consequences.

We cannot let them succeed. This rule, along with Maine’s recently passed law requiring background checks, represent a massive step forward in keeping Maine families, schools and communities safe from gun violence. We need our representatives in Congress to build upon the progress made with the Bipartisan Safer Communities Act and ensure that ATF’s commonsense rule to address loopholes in our background check system is protected against these baseless attacks from extremists who want to put the gun lobby first.

We need them to stand up for our children, our grandchildren and a future free from gun violence.

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