If voters were to pass the upcoming referendum on universal background checks for gun purchases, Mainers would lose freedoms that they have historically exercised responsibly.

Inevitably, some Mainers would be turned into criminals because they were either unable or unwilling to comply with the new law, or simply ignorant of it. It is fair to ask what impact, if any, these newly created criminals would have on the criminal justice system in Maine.

The Maine attorney general would be responsible for leading the effort to prosecute these new offenders. However, according to the attorney general’s website (as of Feb. 3):

In 2010, the eight statewide district attorneys handled “an annual caseload three times the recommended maximum standard set by the American Bar Association. … The extraordinarily heavy workload of the district attorneys and the assistant district attorneys is managed by way of long hours and hard work. Recent funding cutbacks place even greater pressures on the district attorneys.”

Given the realities of current caseloads, how would prosecutors prioritize a low-level “victimless crime” like violating background check laws?

If, because of these heavy workloads, the law were to be ignored or selectively enforced in a capricious manner, what effect would that have on the public’s respect for the judicial system and the rule of law? If there is no intent or realistic possibility of enforcing this law, what is the point of it?

Maine voters have an opportunity to keep their freedoms, and avoid these consequences, by voting “no” on the universal background check referendum.

Alex Giger


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