FACT CHECK: NRA website on Maine background check campaign
The National Rifle Association recently launched a website, www.votenoquestion3.org, in an attempt to influence Mainers on Question 3 on this November’s ballot. The website is riddled with factual inaccuracies and misleading statements, and we have fact-checked many of them below.
Out-of-state influence- from Serbia?
In addition to the factual inaccuracies, the NRA website features a number of notable quirks. As pointed out by Michael Shepherd in the Bangor Daily News, the logo of the site contained an outline of the state of Maine that was not accurate. After Shepherd pointed out that they didn’t even get the state outline correct, the NRA quickly removed the logo and replaced it with a new one:
The website’s central purpose seems to be to whip up fear of out-of-state influence on Maine’s gun laws. Not only is their premise incorrect (the Yes on 3 campaign is a Maine-based campaign that was sponsored by Mainers, is supported by Maine’s law enforcement community and put on the ballot with the signatures of 85,000 Mainers), but the imagery the NRA uses to reinforce its point is of hunters who are not only NOT from Maine, but likely are not even Americans. The photos are stock photos taken by a Serbian photographer named Pedrov Vuckovic.
These images underscore the irony of the NRA’s claims that Yes on 3 is an out-of-state effort. The NRA — a DC-based, special interest group — attempts to generate xenophobic fear by using out-of-state imagery while failing to even correctly identify the shape of our state. Even more ham-handed, the gun lobby exposes their complete disconnect with Maine’s sporting community by featuring stock images of hunters who are not wearing hunter-orange, as required by Maine law. Perhaps hunter-orange is not required in Serbia, but here in Maine, responsible hunters follow the game laws. In addition, all the contacts for the media listed on the website are from out of state and list the Northern Virginia offices of the NRA for contact information.
Sloppy work to say the least, but the NRA’s lack of understanding Maine doesn’t stop with these photographs.
The NRA’s website makes a large number of claims that indicate they either don’t understand the proposed law or are intentionally distorting the truth. Below is a point-by-point fact check of these claims:
NRA: Question 3 “Would Not Stop Criminals”
WRONG. Since 1998, the background check system has worked to block more than 5,500 gun sales in Maine to felons, domestic abusers, those with severe mental illness and other dangerous people, and more than 2.4 million people nationwide. This law seeks to close a dangerous loophole that allows guns to be sold over the Internet or through the classifieds with no background check, no questions asked.
NRA: Question 3 “Criminalizes Sales & Transfers”
WRONG. This initiative simply makes it harder for dangerous people – such as criminals, domestic abusers and the severely mentally ill – to get their hands on guns. It does nothing to prevent law-abiding Mainers from selling or purchasing firearms, and it builds on Maine’s heritage of responsible gun ownership. Responsible sellers want to know that they’ve sold a gun to another responsible buyer. This initiative is a common-sense policy that protects the rights of law-abiding Maine gun owners while doing more to make it harder for dangerous people to get guns.
NRA: Question 3’s “Exceptions Are Misleading”
WRONG. Question 3 clearly lays out exemptions for hunting trips and for the transfers of firearms between family members. The NRA is using the same playbook they have used over and over to block common-sense regulations — attempting to confuse and scare the electorate. Question 3 simply takes existing federal law that requires background checks for all dealer sales and applies it to private sales.
NRA: Question 3 is “Unenforceable And Unfunded”
WRONG. The statistics are clear: In states that require criminal background checks for all handgun sales:
48% fewer law enforcement officers are killed with handguns,
46% fewer women are shot to death by intimate partners,
There are 48% fewer gun suicides, and
There is 48% less gun trafficking.
And in Missouri, when that state repealed its background check requirements, gun crimes went up.
The launch of this disaster of a website is a good indicator of what is to come from the NRA during this election. Unfortunately for them, they are off to a pretty rocky start.