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  • Volunteers launch gun background check campaign in Maine

     Mainers for Responsible Gun Ownership, a new coalition of law enforcement officials, gun violence survivors, sportsmen, gun owners and gun violence prevention advocates, officially launched the campaign to close a dangerous loophole in Maine’s background check system with volunteer events across the state.

    “Mainers have a culture of responsible gun ownership and a proud hunting and sporting heritage,” said Lincoln County Sheriff Todd Brackett. “The background check initiative, which will be on the ballot in November, protects law-abiding gun owners while making it harder for dangerous people to get guns.” 

    On May 14, 2016 the coalition conducted door-to-door canvasses in Damariscotta, Portland and Rockland and a volunteer phonebank in Bangor. Throughout the following week, volunteers will hold events across the state – including in Eastport, Belfast, Norway and Houlton – to talk to their friends and neighbors about the initiative.

    “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.”

    Currently in Maine, criminal background checks are only required for gun sales at licensed dealers. That means felons, domestic abusers and other dangerous people can easily buy guns anonymously from unlicensed sellers — including at gun shows, through classified ads and from strangers they meet online — no background check required, no questions asked. The Maine Background Check Initiative would close this loophole by requiring that everyone buying a gun in Maine get the same background check, no matter where they buy it or who they buy it from.

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

    About Mainers for Responsible Gun Ownership

    Mainers for Responsible Gun Ownership is a coalition of community organizations, survivors of gun violence, law enforcement, faith leaders, domestic violence prevention advocates, sportsmen, law enforcement officials and other concerned Mainers working to close the background check loophole in Maine law.