When I saw a guest editorial Sept. 18 by the “longest-serving legislator in Maine history,” Rep. John Martin, I felt a sense of eager anticipation, bordering on apprehension. Surely blissful enlightenment would follow. Instead, I read an incomplete, and sometimes incorrect, analysis of how the proposed Question 3 universal background check law would work.

Rep. Martin starts by saying that “universal” means “every time someone buys or borrows a gun” a background check must be done. It actually means that guns sold by unlicensed dealers will be subject to the same background checks that apply to licensed dealers.

If he had taken time to read the text of the initiative, he would have known there are at least 10 categorical exceptions, where no check is required, including transfers between family members and temporary transfers between hunting partners.

He then states that bringing his shotgun to his gunsmith for repair would require not one, but two background checks: one when the gun goes from owner to gunsmith, and the second when the gun is returned by smith to the owner. There is no basis for this claim.

No background check is required as long as the person who brings the gun in is the one who retrieves it. Like Rick in “Casablanca,” he is misinformed. He should have known better, or found out, before saying “the thing that is not.”

Question 3 is a modest proposal to close a loophole in Maine law that allows unlicensed gun dealers to transfer firearms, if they see fit, to convicted felons, some domestic abusers and other dangerous individuals. The impact on law-abiding hunters and gun owners will be little to none.

The National Rifle Association may wield substantial influence on individual legislators, but the voter initiative is beyond its reach. It’s time to do what the Legislature won’t: Vote “yes” on Question 3.

Steven Zimmerman