AUGUSTA, Maine – The Secretary of State has given approval for Maine citizens to begin gathering signatures to place an initiative to require criminal background checks on all gun sales on the November 2016 ballot. Moms Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense – a coalition of gun violence survivors, law enforcement, gun owners, domestic violence prevention advocates, and concerned moms and dads – will kick off the signature drive this weekend with multiple events around the state.
Currently, federal law only requires criminal background checks for gun sales conducted by licensed dealers. But people can easily and anonymously buy guns from unlicensed sellers—often from strangers met online, at gun shows, or through classified ads—with no background check required, no questions asked. The Background Check Initiative would close this loophole, requiring the same criminal background check for all gun sales in Maine, with reasonable exceptions for family, hunting, and self-defense.
“We can save lives by closing the deadly loophole in Maine law that makes it far too easy for criminals, domestic abusers, and other dangerous people to get their hands on guns without any background check at all,” said Judi Richardson, whose 25-year-old daughter Darien was shot in her Portland apartment during a home invasion in 2010, while asleep in her bedroom. Darien’s murder remains unsolved, in part, because the gun used in the crime was transferred without a background check at a gun show. “We are now one step closer to giving Mainers the chance to vote up or down on this issue next November.”
Judi and her husband Wayne, who are citizen sponsors of the ballot measure, will be in Portland this Saturday to help kick off a volunteer signature-gathering event. A similar event is being held Saturday in Hancock County.
“Supporting the Second Amendment goes hand in hand with the responsibility to keep guns out of the hands of dangerous people,” said Chief Sean Geagan of the Bucksport Police Department, a citizen sponsor of the ballot measure. “While no law can prevent every tragedy, this ballot measure will help keep Mainers safe. In states that require criminal background checks on all handgun sales, the rates of law enforcement gun homicide, domestic violence homicide and gun suicides drop dramatically.”
The other citizen sponsors are domestic violence prevention advocate Laurie Fogelman, Christopher Dickens, a father and gun owner from Blue Hill, and Amy Fiorilli, a mom from Otis.
The proposed initiative, which is supported by 80 percent of Mainers, requires that everyone in Maine who buys a gun gets the same criminal background check, no matter where they buy it or who they buy it from. To sell a gun to anyone who isn’t a family member, an unlicensed seller would meet the buyer and complete the sale at a gun dealer, who will run a background check just as if the dealer were selling the gun from his inventory
Background checks are quick and easy – 91 percent take place in under two minutes. And more than 98 percent of Mainers live within 10 miles of a gun dealer
, making it simple and convenient for buyers and sellers to meet at a gun dealer to run the check.
Under state law, Maine Moms Demand Action will have until January 22 to collect at least 61,123 valid signatures to qualify for the November 2016 ballot. Maine Moms Demand Action is committed to bringing together a broad coalition of gun violence survivors, law enforcement, domestic violence advocates, gun owners, families, community leaders, elected officials and other concerned citizens to qualify the background check initiative.