An initiative campaign to expand background checks in the sale of firearms has obtained enough valid signatures to qualify for the November ballot, Secretary of State Matthew Dunlap said Thursday.

The petitions had been in circulation since Oct. 13 and were submitted to the Secretary of State’s Office on Jan. 19 with 84,602 signatures. Staff at the office’s Bureau of Corporations, Elections and Commissions found that 65,821 of the signatures were valid, exceeding the minimum of 61,123 signatures of registered Maine voters required to qualify for the ballot, Dunlap said.

The proposal will go to the Legislature for consideration, as required by the Maine Constitution. Lawmakers can choose to enact the bill as written or to send it forward to a statewide vote in November.

The legislation would require a background check before the sale or transfer of a gun between people who are not licensed firearms dealers. They would be required to meet at a licensed 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.

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