For the first time in two decades, the U.S. House plans Wednesday to vote on a gun-control measure that would expand federal background checks to all gun sales and most private firearm transfers.

It appears that U.S. Rep. Jared Golden, the first-term Democrat from Maine’s 2nd District, will be among only a handful of members of his party to oppose it. 

Maine’s other member of Congress, Democrat Chellie Pingree in the 1st District, supports the background check bill.

The proposal is so similar to the Question 3 referendum on Maine’s 2016 ballot that Golden referred to it as “a near mirror image” of a proposal  that Mainers declined to endorse when they had the chance.

Appearing on Maine Public’s “Maine Calling” radio show recently, Golden told a caller the referendum “was soundly rejected” by voters “and strongly so in the 11 counties that I represent.”

It lost by a 52 percent to 48 percent margin statewide, but Golden’s sprawling, mostly rural district provided an outsized share of the opposition.


Though Golden won’t vote for the Bipartisan Background Checks Act, the measure is virtually certain to pass the House given that it has 227 Democratic sponsors and five Republicans on board. That’s enough for a majority.

Reps. Jared Golden and Chellie Pingree of Maine

Only eight Democrats in the House failed to sign on as co-sponsors of the proposal. It isn’t clear how many of them will join Golden in opposition.

The bill’s fate in the Republican-controlled Senate is iffy. Even if it survives the Senate, the White House has said that President Trump would veto it.

Another gun control bill is also scheduled for a House vote this week. The Enhanced Background Checks Act would extend the time the federal government can take to complete a background check from three days to 20 days.

Pingree favors that legislation, and it isn’t clear how Golden will vote on it.  Trump would veto that bill, as well.

The background check bill before the House on Wednesday would revise the existing law that requires only federally licensed gun dealers to conduct background checks as part of a sale, a provision adopted decades ago to try to keep guns out of the hands of people who are not allowed to possess them.


But many guns change hands through private sales or are given as gifts.

The bill includes a number of exceptions where background checks wouldn’t be required, including transfers between family members, during settlement of an estate and for security personnel on the job.

The White House statement said the measure “would impose burdensome requirements on certain firearm transactions” and “impose permanent record-keeping requirements and limitless fees” on some transactions.

It said the “very narrow exemptions” included in the bill  “would not sufficiently protect the Second Amendment right of individuals to keep and bear arms.”

A week after the Parkland school shooting in February 2018, Trump promised he would beef up background checks.

“I will be strongly pushing Comprehensive Background Checks with an emphasis on Mental Health,” Trump said on Twitter, and raise the age of purchase to 21.

“Congress is in a mood to finally do something on this issue — I hope!” Trump tweeted.

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