There are approximately 18 states across the country that have expanded background checks and, of those 18, only three (Colorado, Washington and Oregon) have a version of universal background checks like the one proposed in Maine. Only Colorado has been in effect for more than a year, and all were pushed by ex-New York mayor and gun control zealot, Michael Bloomberg.

The reason we strongly oppose Question 3 is because of a new definition of “transfer,” proposed in the law that is much different than traditionally used. Under the proposed initiative language, Question 3 proponents have redefined firearm “transfers” to mean any occurrence in which a person “furnishes, gives, lends or otherwise provides, with or without consideration” a firearm.

This massive new expansion of the Federal NICS background check extends the mandatory NICS check far beyond selling a firearm or permanent transfers of title. What this means is every non-exempt firearm “transfer” in which gun owners have traditionally shared or loaned firearms — like loaning a trusted friend a shotgun to go hunting, for target practice on private property, or for potential self-defense — involves a form 4473, submitting to a FBI check, and paying the dealer’s fee, ($30-$50).

If the law passes this is what loaning a firearm to a friend would look like:

First, you and a friend would have to meet at the premises of a dealer willing to conduct the “transfer.” The dealer would take the firearm you intend to loan, have your friend fill out form, and call the NICS hotline. If your friend passes the check, you would be charged a fee, ($30-$50).

We aren’t done.

In order to get your gun back (another “transfer”) you have to do the same thing in reverse, undergo the NICS check and pay another fee. Total cost, ($60-$100).

Worse than this over regulatory new burden, unknowingly violating this new law (first offense) is 364 days in jail and a $2,000 fine, second offense is a felony and loss of firearm rights forever — for letting a friend borrow a gun.

This law could have been written very simply, easy to understand and with penalties that fit the crime. It is not. It is written in a way to overly target law-abiding citizens and do virtually nothing to stop “bad people” from getting guns.

We are perplexed as to why the “Yes on 3 Campaign” included the “temporary” transfer provision in the initiative, except to make it more difficult for law-abiding citizens to use firearms in lawful ways. To date they have not answered this important question.

The Sportsman’s Alliance of Maine, The Maine Professional Guides Association, Maine Bow Hunters Association, Maine Trappers Association, Gun Owners of Maine and the NRA all urge a no vote.

David Trahan is executive director of SAM. He can be reached at [email protected]

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