BRUNSWICK

“We know we can’t stop every act of violence, every act of evil in the world. But maybe we could try to stop one act of evil; one act of violence,” President Barack Obama said Tuesday as he announced new executive actions on gun control measures to reduce gun violence.

Those actions have been lauded by many gun-control advocates, including Jackie Sartoris, a Brunswick attorney and member of Maine Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense, the state branch of the national organization that seeks to reform gun laws.

“I’m happy about it per- sonally,” Sartoris said, “and the organization I think reacted positively.”

Gun rules widely vary from state to state, Sartoris said, so while she applauds Obama, “at the same time it only makes me more determined to make sure Maine steps up in recognition of where the mass majority of people are on this.”

She said research shows a vast majority of voters support gun control and will hopefully support passage of the comprehensive background check measures that could go before Maine voters in November as a result of a citizen petition.

The proposed referendum would expand background checks to private gun sales. It is supported by Maine Moms and chief sponsors Judi and Wayne Richardson, whose daughter, a Bowdoin College graduate, died six years ago after she was shot in her Portland home by a .45 caliber pistol that had changed hands without background checks.

Sartoris said recent data showed 8 percent of guns confiscated in Massachusetts have been traced back to a private sale in Maine.

“We can all see we have a problem. This is a way to at least help with one piece of the problem,” Sartoris said. “It’s not going to solve everything. I do expect we’ll see pushback from the NRA.”

Obama’s measures aim to keep guns out of the wrong hands through background checks, according to the White House’s posted facts on the executive actions. They stress anyone in the business of selling firearms, whether online or at gun shows, must get a license and conduct background checks.

Obama’s measures also will require background checks for people trying to buy some of the most dangerous weapons and make the background check system more effective and efficient. They will increase mental health treatment and reporting to the background check system and aim to promote smart gun technology.

The executive director of the National Rifle Association’s Institute for Legislative Action, Chris W. Cox, said in a Tuesday statement: “The American people do not need more emotional, condescending lectures that are completely devoid of facts. The men and women of the National Rifle Association take a back seat to no one when it comes to keeping our communities safe. But the fact is that President Obama’s proposals would not have prevented any of the horrific events he mentioned.”

Cox also argued, “The proposed executive actions are ripe for abuse by the Obama administration, which has made no secret of its contempt for the Second Amendment. The NRA will continue to fight to protect the fundamental, individual right to keep and bear arms as guaranteed under our Constitution.”

First District Congresswoman Chellie Pingree, DMaine, praised Obama’s actions as a way to close the “gun show loophole” and keep firearms out of the hands of violent criminals and terrorists.

However, Second District Congressman Bruce Poliquin, R-Maine, characterized the actions as ones that would unilaterally restrict law-abiding citizens’ Second Amendment rights.

“As I’ve said before, we need to better enforce the laws that are in place now and develop comprehensive strategies to keep Americans safe,” said Poliquin in a statement.

Sartoris said fear is a bad place from which to start basing decisions.

“The fact is if Obama is going to take our guns away, I don’t think he’d wait for the last year of his presidency. The reality is no action has been taken to take anyone’s weapon away,” she said, nor is Maine Moms proposing to do anything about assault weapons. “This is just about background checks.”

Sartoris began volunteering for Maine Moms in the fall. The mother of three said she has a child who is now the same age as some of the 20 children killed in the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting in Newtown, Connecticut, on Dec. 14, 2012.

Since the tragedy, “There hasn’t been a day that I haven’t taken him to our local elementary school and not thought about those kids. Every one of those parents said goodbye that morning and that was the last time they saw their child and if that doesn’t motivate you to take common sense actions to keep some guns out of the hands of some criminals, I don’t know what will.”

Sartoris said she comes from a conservative family with many gun owners which includes her husband, noting, “We are not a gun-free household. … We’re not a gun-hating household.”

The most recent, highprofile tragedy involving a firearm occurred in November, when a 22-year-old woman was shot and killed in what police characterized as an apparent accident during a private gun sale at the Shaw’s parking lot in Bath. That case remains under investigation.

Sartoris did say the extended background checks may have taken the transaction from a parking lot to a commercial establishment.

[email protected]timesrecord.com


Comments are not available on this story.

filed under: