For the first time in two decades, the U.S. House of Representatives plans to vote Wednesday on a gun-control measure that would expand federal background checks to all gun sales and most private firearm transfers.

It appears U.S. Rep. Jared Golden, the first-term Democrat from Maine’s 2nd District, will be among a few members of his party to oppose it.

The proposal is so similar to the Question 3 referendum on Maine’s 2016 ballot that Golden referred to it as “a near mirror image” of the proposal Mainers declined to endorse when they had the chance.

Appearing on Maine Public’s “Maine Calling” radio show recently, Golden told a caller the referendum “was soundly rejected” by voters “and strongly so in the 11 counties that I represent.”

It lost 52 percent to 48 percent statewide, but Golden’s sprawling, mostly rural district provided an outsized share of the opposition.

Though Golden said he will not vote for the Bipartisan Background Checks Act, the measure is virtually certain to pass the House given that it has 227 Democratic sponsors and five Republicans on board — enough for a majority.


Only eight Democrats in the House failed to sign on as co-sponsors of the proposal. It is not clear how many will join Golden in opposition.

Maine’s other U.S. representative, Democrat Chellie Pingree in the 1st District, supports the background check bill.

She said Tuesday it “would fill the holes in our background check system, one of the easiest and most effective steps we can take to prevent gun violence and save lives.”

“I’m disheartened that this issue has become so divisive, because there’s so much we can agree on,” Pingree said.

“This bipartisan bill finds that common ground, striking a commonsense compromise between protecting public safety while preserving the rights of law-abiding gun owners.”

The bill’s fate in the Republican-controlled Senate is iffy at best. Even if it survives the Senate, the White House has already declared that President Donald Trump would veto it.


Another gun-control bill is slated for a House vote this week. The Enhanced Background Checks Act would extend the time the federal government can take to complete a background check from three days to 20 days.

It is not clear whether Golden will vote for it. Pingree favors the legislation. Trump, though, has said he would also veto it.

The background check bill on tap Wednesday would revise the existing law that only requires federally licensed gun dealers to conduct background checks as part of a sale, a provision adopted decades ago to try to keep guns out of the hands of people who are not allowed to possess them.

But many guns are exchanged through private sales or as gifts.

“Our background check system can’t protect the public with so many massive holes in it,” Pingree said.

“We can all agree that certain people should not be allowed to own a firearm because of the risks they present. But we’ve given them multiple options for skirting the system so they can purchase one with ease.”


The bill includes a number of exceptions for which background checks would not be required, including transfers between family members, during dispersion of an estate and for security personnel acting within the scope of their jobs.

The White House statement said the measure “would impose burdensome requirements on certain firearm transactions” and “impose permanent record-keeping requirements and limitless fees” on some transactions.

It said the “very narrow exemptions” included in the bill  “would not sufficiently protect the Second Amendment right of individuals to keep and bear arms.”

A week after the school shooting in Parkland, Florida, in February 2018, Trump promised he would beef up background checks.

“I will be strongly pushing Comprehensive Background Checks with an emphasis on Mental Health,” Trump tweeted, “and raise the age of purchase to 21.”

“Congress is in a mood to finally do something on this issue — I hope!” Trump also tweeted.


Pingree cited school shootings that “have rocked our nation” as a reason to move ahead with the bill.

“I’ve met with students who don’t feel safe in their schools, parents who fear for their children and heartbroken families who’ve lost their loved ones to gun violence,” she said.

“Congress should be absolutely ashamed that we have ignored their cries and this appalling crisis for so long.”

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