March 26 marked the sixth annual Darien’s Walk, a walk of remembrance to honor Darien Richardson of Portland, who was killed by gun violence.

Maine is one step closer to closing the loophole in the criminal background check system that makes it easy for criminals, domestic abusers and other dangerous people to get their hands on guns through private gun sales. Mainers have collected enough signatures to put this issue on the November ballot.

No one policy can prevent every tragedy, but this measure can save some lives in Maine. Research shows that criminal background checks work. In 1998, the current federal law requiring background checks for public gun sales went into effect. This law has prevented nearly 2.5 million gun sales to criminals and other dangerous people.

Unfortunately, federal law does not go far enough. Guns continue to fall into dangerous hands because of a loophole that allows unlicensed private sellers to sell guns with no background check required. This is commonly done online, by private sellers at gun shows or through classifieds like Uncle Henry’s. Criminals are taking advantage, utilizing private sellers to buy their guns. To me, this is simply unacceptable.

Maine has the opportunity to lead the nation in passing this common-sense legislation and ending these senseless gun deaths in our communities.

Johannah Hart


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