The Maine Chiefs of Police Association announced Thursday that its members support a proposal on November’s ballot for a background check requirement for private gun sales.

“It’s a common-sense proposal that will help keep guns out of the hands of dangerous people,” said South Portland Police Chief Ed Googins at a news conference in Gorham. “Criminal background checks are the single most effective way to prevent felons, domestic abusers, people with severe mental illness and other dangerous people from purchasing a firearm.”

Under current state law, only federally licensed firearms dealers such as gun store owners are required to run the names of would-be buyers through the FBI’s National Instant Criminal Background Check System. Anyone buying a gun from a private seller is not required to undergo a background check.

If voters pass Question 3 in November, background checks would be required for most private gun purchases. The proposal exempts transactions between family members or to law enforcement, and some “temporary transfers” for hunting or personal defense.

“While no law can prevent every crime, this ballot measure will make Maine a safer place,” said Falmouth Police Chief Edward Tolan, who also is the incoming president of the association. “Maine has a strong tradition of responsible gun ownership and respect for the Second Amendment. Question 3 honors both of those values.”

The Maine Chiefs of Police Association has more than 350 members, including active and retired chiefs, sheriffs and senior law enforcement leaders.

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