WINDHAM — What I love most about Maine is its citizens. Through my work in the Legislature, my community involvement and my network of friends, I can say that Mainers exhibit all the best qualities in a wholehearted manner. We’re proud of our modesty and morality, but unfortunately that’s being preyed upon by out-of-state, big-money opportunists intent on hijacking our citizen referendum process and wreaking havoc on our rights and heritage.

When laws are created by the Legislature and sometimes, through the initiative process, by our citizens, the goal should be relevancy to our culture, history and convictions. Michael Bloomberg’s universal background check initiative is far more expansive than requiring a National Instant Criminal Background Check System check to purchase a firearm.

Rather, it redefines transfers to include commonplace Maine activities like loaning a firearm to a friend to hunt with, storing firearms with a neighbor while you’re out of town or sighting in a rifle with your buddy at a gravel pit should both of you touch the firearm.

The proponents of Question 3 would like to keep you focused on “closing the gun show loophole” or regulating private sales in classified publications such as Uncle Henry’s. If that’s the intent, why open up the definition of “transfer” so broadly in revising statutes – writing law – for the ballot?

As well intentioned as it may seem to shut off sales without background checks, there is so much more to be considered in voting on this initiative. Bills that are too broadly written to address a particular issue often collapse under their own weight, and this should be the fate of Question 3.

For years, my friend loaned me a deer rifle for the season. With that came the opportunity to hunt and the responsibility to clean it and lock it up safely when not in use so I could return the firearm in December. Finally, last year I purchased that rifle from him through a private sale. Under Question 3, these commonplace activities would not be allowed.


Before this deer rifle was loaned and sold, my friend and I had been through multiple background checks over the years to purchase new firearms. We both possess Maine concealed-weapons permits, so we’ve been vetted by local law enforcement to carry firearms. We know this about one another. These types of reasonable transfers and other activities that are legal today would put two law-abiding Mainers in very hot water should Question 3 pass.

Most Mainers I know will begrudgingly cough up the cash and navigate the obstacles to comply with the new laws. Some might unintentionally make a mistake because Question 3 broadly defines how one could transfer a firearm and covers much more than sales.

We all know that none of this will actually matter to criminals intent on buying a firearm. They’re already bypassing the system and will continue to do so through the black market, straw purchases including those made by family members, lying on the Form 4473 (i.e., background check) and theft.

I don’t know honest people who participate in the aforementioned illegal activities, and we already have laws that ban people like felons and some sufferers of mental illness from buying firearms. I can only surmise that this referendum, as written, unjustifiably would have the biggest impact on law-abiding Mainers who own firearms.

It’s hard for me to see how restricting Mainers’ rights and spoiling our heritage will make a billionaire New Yorker with professional bodyguards safer, although I’m not sure this is the motivation. Should Question 3 pass, the loss of our rights will simply become a pawn in justifying a broader national gun control agenda.

One of the primary reasons my wife and I live in Maine is that it’s one of the safest places to live in our country. Again this year, Maine has been rated by the financial news and opinion website 24/7 Wall St. as the most peaceful state in our nation. As a state legislator, my commitment is to keep it that way.

Bloomberg’s universal background check initiative is unnecessary and even worse, it seriously infringes upon the rights of decent Maine people. Question 3 promises to make traditionally lawful acts criminal.

EDITOR’S NOTE: This commentary was changed at 8:10 p.m. Sept. 23 to clarify a statement in the fourth paragraph regarding the impact of Question 3 on private firearms sales.

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