As the longest-serving legislator in the history of Maine, you could say I’ve seen it all. I would have thought the same thing until Question 3, a ballot initiative designed to criminalize the private transfer of firearms, reared its head last year.

They call it a universal background check. That means a background check is run every time someone buys or borrows a firearm. Really? Does anyone actually believe criminals will subject themselves to a background check when illegally purchasing a gun? That means the background checks will not be universal. What they will be is a headache for law-abiding gun owners. Just look at this example.

My shotgun isn’t performing as well as it used to and I take it to the shop for repairs. Before that happens, I have to find a local gun store, arrange to meet my gunsmith there and pay for a background check. The same thing must happen after the work is done. Yes, I will have to undergo a background check to take back ownership of my own gun. Never in all my years would I have supported such a law. That doesn’t make any sense.

I have nothing against ballot initiatives. They serve as a valuable asset to our often overburdened democracy. But ballot initiatives are supposed to reflect the will of the people – not the will of a New York City billionaire with money to burn.

And Question 3 is the pet project of former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg. He is the man and the money behind the groups supporting this initiative. And with more than $30 billion to his name, you can bet he’s just getting started.

So far he’s dumped nearly $4 million into this campaign. That’s more money than any candidate raised during the 2014 governor’s race. Money spent to gather signatures, advertise and rally volunteers to champion this initiative that’s meant to make Maine safe. But Maine isn’t Chicago. Innocent, law-abiding citizens aren’t hunkered down at home in fear of shootouts in the streets. We are a strong, mature state with a long, storied tradition of sport shooting, hunting, and self-defense.

If there’s one thing I’ve learned during my years in the House and Senate, it’s that you should never force law-abiding citizens to relinquish their rights. That the good people of Maine are just that – good people. If we decide to punish one class of citizens for the illegal action of others, then where does it stop?

Take the word of someone who’s been there before – Question 3 will not make Maine any safer. So instead of approving a feel-good measure that criminalizes a perfectly legal activity, vote “no” on Question 3.

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