Requiring Background Checks for All Gun Sales Will Help Reduce Domestic Violence Murders

Advocates and survivors of domestic violence today made the case for the strong connection between easy access to guns for dangerous people and domestic violence murder.

“Half of all murders in Maine are a result of domestic abuse. It’s time that we start connecting this issue of easy access to guns to the domestic abuse numbers in our state. There is something we can be doing about this issue, and we need to do it,” said Lois Galgay Reckitt, the retired executive director of the Maine Domestic Violence Resource Center. “October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month, and though I think it’s a travesty that such a month is needed, but it is. And especially so in Maine.”

Right now in Maine, domestic abusers and other dangerous people who fail a background check at a gun store can still buy a firearm by accessing the wide-open unlicensed market of online and classified ads.
Question 3 on this November’s ballot would require background checks for all gun sales and make it harder for domestic abusers to get hold of a gun.

“No law will stop all crime, but we know that background checks can make a difference,” said David Farmer, campaign manager for Mainers for Responsible Gun Ownership. “In the last five years, 22 percent of people who tried to buy a gun but failed their criminal background check at licensed gun dealers in the state were blocked due to a history of domestic violence. That’s nearly double the national rate of 12 percent.”

If a convicted felon, domestic abuser or someone who is severely mentally ill goes into a gun store to try and buy a firearm, they will fail a background check and be prohibited from buying that gun. But those same people can simply walk out the door and choose from more than 3,000 guns advertised each year for sale through the classified ads or the internet in Maine.

“Until one has experienced the murder of a son, as I have, you probably can’t understand how that one event can alter your life,” Bill Horner, whose son, Mark, was murdered when his girlfriend’s estranged and mentally ill ex-husband shot him before turning the gun on himself said. If a background check had been required before that man could get a gun, my son might still be alive today.”

“Domestic abuse has a lasting impact. I grew up with a mother whose first husband used to regularly threaten her with a gun; it left her feeling scared and powerless. He never should have been allowed a gun,” said Kimberly Hammill, a domestic violence prevention advocate. “My mom was able to get out of that situation and leave him, but not all women in Maine are so lucky. We owe it to the victims of domestic abuse, and the survivors like my mother, to pass this initiative in November. We need to vote yes to make Maine women safer.”

In addition to the press conference, the YES on 3 campaign also released a new ad, which discusses background checks and domestic violence. The ad can be seen here:

A YES vote on Question 3 has been endorsed by the Maine Coalition to End Domestic Violence, Maine Chiefs of Police Association, Maine Municipal Association, EqualityMaine, League of Women Voters, Maine Women’s Lobby, Maine Medical Association, Maine Council of Churches, Maine Women’s Lobby, Maine Children’s Alliance, The Ellsworth American, Bangor Daily News, Portland Press Herald, Kennebec Journal, MDI Islander, and the Morning Sentinel as well as a growing list of civic organizations representing thousands and thousands of Mainers from all walks of life.

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