Currently in Maine, criminal background checks are only required for gun sales at licensed dealers. That means that felons, domestic abusers, and other dangerous people can easily buy guns anonymously from unlicensed sellers—including at gun shows and from strangers they meet online—no background check required, no questions asked.
The Background Check Initiative would close this loophole in Maine by requiring a criminal background check for every gun sale in the state, with reasonable exceptions for family, hunting, and self-defense.
Requiring criminal background checks for all gun sales is proven to keep guns out of the hands of dangerous people. In states that require them for all handgun sales, there are fewer women shot to death by intimate partners, fewer law enforcement officers killed with handguns, less gun trafficking, and fewer gun suicides.
Since 1998, the background check system has blocked over 5,500 gun sales to felons, domestic abusers, people with severe mental illness, and other dangerous people in Maine. But it’s still far too easy for criminals in Maine to avoid background checks. Background checks are only required for gun sales by licensed dealers, so anyone can simply buy a gun from an unlicensed seller—even from strangers met online, at gun shows, or through classified ads—with no background check, no questions asked. Maine can close that deadly loophole with this initiative.
Nope! The initiative does not require background checks for gifts or sales between husbands, wives, domestic partners, parents, children or siblings (blood or adopted), grandparents, grandchildren, nieces, nephews, aunts, uncles, first cousins, in-laws, step parents or siblings, half siblings or intimate partners.
Maine has a strong tradition of responsible gun ownership, and this initiative honors that tradition by allowing reasonable exceptions from the background check requirement — for transfers to family members, while hunting, and for self-defense.
The initiative would not outlaw gun shows or drive them out of business in Maine. Gun shows will continue to operate, and unlicensed sellers will continue to be able to sell guns at them.
Unlicensed sellers can ask a licensed dealer already selling at the show to run the check for them, or the gun show operator can hire dealers specifically for that purpose. It’s a simple system that works now at gun shows in states like Colorado, Oregon, and Washington.
Mainers are proud of our low crime rates, but our weak gun laws still make it all too easy for dangerous people, including felons, domestic abusers, and people with dangerous mental illness, to get their hands on guns.
Between 2004 and 2013, 132 Maine residents were murdered with guns, and an additional 1,040 killed themselves with firearms. And there is a particularly deadly relationship between guns and domestic violence in Maine: in 42 percent of all gun homicides committed in Maine in 2013, the perpetrator was a former or current intimate partner or family member of the victim. Additionally, criminals and gun traffickers exploit Maine laws to buy guns in Maine, and a large number of Maine guns end up in dangerous hands and are used in crimes throughout New England.
No, this initiative will not create a gun registry. The background check initiative would simply extend the existing criminal background check system to all gun sales in Maine, including those between strangers who meet online, at gun shows, or through classified ads. Under the current system, the FBI destroys records of successful background checks within 24 hours, and federal law prohibits the creation of a gun registry. The only records of gun sales are the paper copies of the sales records that are kept by each gun dealer. Under the background check initiative, dealers will also keep paper copies of sales records when they they run background checks for unlicensed sales.