Universal background check supporters launch grassroots campaign

Universal background check supporters launch grassroots campaign

Mainers for Responsible Gun Ownership, the coalition formed to support the citizens’ initiative on the ballot this November to close a loophole in Maine’s system of background checks for gun transfers, formally launched its campaign on Saturday with volunteer events across the state.

“While this initiative will not prevent every tragedy, it will make Maine safer and save lives,” said Judi Richardson of South Portland, a supporter of the initiative whose daughter, Darien, died six years ago as a result of gunshot wounds. “We cannot bring Darien back, but we are committed to doing everything possible to protect others from this pain by reducing gun violence.”

On Saturday, members of the coalition, which includes community organizations, law enforcement, faith leaders, domestic violence prevention advocates, sportsmen, law enforcement officials and others, conducted door-to-door canvasses in Damariscotta, Portland and Rockland and a volunteer phonebank in Bangor.

Volunteers plan to hold similar events over the next week in towns including Eastport, Belfast, Norway and Houlton to reach out to to their friends and neighbors about the initiative.

Currently in Maine, criminal background checks are only required for gun sales at licensed dealers. Guns sold at gun shows, through classified ads and through online services can be transferred without a background check and often with no questions asked. Supporters of the initiative note that this means violent criminals and other dangerous individuals can easily buy guns anonymously.

If passed, the referendum would require that everyone buying a gun in Maine would have the same background check, no matter where they buy it or who they buy it from.

“Background checks work,” said Caribou Chief of Police Michael Gahagan. “Since 1998, they have prevented more than 2.4 million felons, domestic abusers, people with severe mental illness and other dangerous people from getting guns nationwide. And in states that already require background checks for all gun sales, 46 percent fewer women are shot to death by their partners and 48 percent fewer law enforcement officers are killed by handguns.”

A poll released last month by the Maine People’s Resource Center found 66% of likely voters in favor of the background check proposal.

Comments

You might also like

events

A Constitutional challenge: The story behind the protest

On Thursday, a dozen Mainers stood up during Donald Trump’s Portland rally holding pocket copies of the U.S. Constitution. Photos and videos of their action, and the crowd’s hostile reaction,

fair wages

Ben is back, impeachment fails, minimum wage referendum succeeds, and lots more

On this episode of the Beacon Podcast, Ben Chin and Mike Tipping discuss the submission of signatures to put a minimum wage increase on the ballot, all the other campaigns

labor

Maine hospice nurses celebrate union organizing victory

The registered nurses and other healthcare workers at Hospice of Southern Maine in Scarborough will be the latest members of the Maine State Nurses Association (MSNA). They voted to organize