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  • Citizens’ initiative for firearms background checks found valid with 65,821 signatures

    The citizens’ initiative petition effort to consider additional requirements for background checks in the sale of firearms has been found valid, Secretary of State Matthew Dunlap confirmed on February 18, 2016.

    The petitions for “An Act to Require Background Checks for Gun Sales” had been in circulation since Oct. 13, 2015.  On Jan. 19, 2016, the Bureau of Corporations, Elections and Commissions received 19,986 petition forms with 84,602 signatures of those who support the initiative.

    Staff members at the Bureau of Corporations, Elections and Commissions have completed the process of certifying all of the petitions and have found 65,821 valid signatures, while 18,781 were not valid. A minimum of 61,123 signatures from registered Maine voters is required in the citizens’ initiative process, thus the petition has been deemed valid by Secretary Dunlap.

    The initiative to institute additional requirements for background checks in firearm sales will now go to the Legislature for consideration, per the provisions of the Maine Constitution. The Legislature can choose to enact the bill as written or to send it forward to a statewide vote in November 2016. 

    The legislation proposes requiring a background check before a firearm sale or transfer between individuals who are not licensed as firearm dealers. The parties would be required to meet at a licensed firearm dealer, who would conduct a background check on the transferee and complete the sale. Exceptions are included in the proposed legislation for transfers between family members, while the parties are hunting or sport shooting, for emergency self-defense and some other circumstances. Visit to view the proposed legislation in its entirety.