Last week, my wife received a “Yes on 3” mailer. Maybe this slick, deceptively written advertising wasn’t sent to me because of my vocal opposition. It’s more likely that she was chosen through targeted demographics intended to turn out “yes” votes. I’m pleased to say that she isn’t buying their spin either.

The headline on the inside of the mailer says “Vote yes on 3 to require background checks for all gun sales in Maine.” The word “all” is underlined. On that spread it says “Under Question 3, if you own a gun you can still … loan or give a gun to a family member … pass your gun down to the next generation.”

An exemption in the proposed law allows family members to sell or transfer firearms to one another without background checks. The mailer’s cover says “Maine’s dangerous gun sales loophole has deadly consequences.” Currently, that “loophole” allows gun transfers among family members.

Why would the Yes on 3 campaign preserve part of a “dangerous” loophole they claim has “deadly consequences?” Maybe they don’t believe the loophole is “dangerous” or “deadly” after all.

Thirty four percent of female homicide victims between 2003 and 2012 were killed by an intimate male partner, yet Bloomberg’s background check initiative touts its exemption for family members. This exception includes both domestic and intimate partners. I call this the “family member loophole” because that’s exactly what it creates.

As if people who are members of families are incapable of committing wrongdoings with firearms. Almost everyone I know belongs to a family as do most criminals, I’m sure. Are we supposed to believe that an honest Mainer would more likely give, lend, or sell a firearm to a prohibited friend than a family member with a similar background? The vast majority of us wouldn’t commit a federal crime for someone else.

Moreover, ask yourself if this law is fair. Do we have other laws exempting families from criminal activities that non-related members of society could be prosecuted for? I can’t think of any.

If this family member loophole helps alleviate your concerns, ask yourself, does every family share your family’s values? Your answer is likely “no.” Are you only voting “yes” because this loophole makes your situation bearable? It could disappear with future legislation.

If the Yes on 3 campaign wanted to display true concern consistent with their “background checks for all gun sales” proposal, they’d acknowledge their family member loophole was included for political expedience … to garner “yes” votes. This likely won’t happen.

I am against Question 3. When the Legislature and sometimes citizens through the initiative process create laws, the goal should be relevancy to our culture, history and convictions and be fair and uniform for all individuals. This initiative is far more expansive than requiring background checks to purchase firearms, which many Mainers support. It encompasses almost every other conceivable type of transfer.

Question 3 criminalizes commonplace Maine activities like loaning a firearm to a friend to hunt with, storing your firearms with a neighbor while out of town and numerous other situations that fall outside of the initiative’s narrow list of exceptions. Under this law, there are circumstances where the only way to be an upright citizen is for you and your friends to pay up and expose yourselves to bureaucratic red tape. Hurdles criminals intent on getting a firearm will bypass.

People interested in preserving their gun rights are often accused of holding the belief that giving their opponents an inch, will result in a mile. Well folks, this initiative isn’t an inch, it’s a mile. If this initiative was only focused on sales, you’d see very little vocal opposition, including from me.

Yes on 3’s family member loophole does not fully close the “dangerous gun sales loophole” they claim exists. Moreover, Question 3 promises to disproportionately impact law-abiding Mainers, especially those with small or no families, more than criminals.

One of the primary reasons my wife and I live in Maine is that it’s one of the safest places in our country. As a state legislator, I’m committed to keeping it that way. Vote “no” on Question 3 because it promises to make traditionally lawful acts criminal.

Rep. Patrick Corey sits on the Joint Standing Committee for Inland Fisheries and Wildlife. He lives in Windham.


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