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NRA's Top Lobbyist Visits Maine To Campaign Against Maine Ballot Measure

The National Rifle Association’s top lobbyist was in Portland to talk up the gun rights agenda — and talk down an initiative on the November ballot that would stiffen backgound checks for gun purchases in Maine.

The NRA’s Chris Cox condemned backers of the ballot measure as elitists who want to do away with the Second Amendment and other rights too.

“These people say they’re smarter than you, more educated than you,” Cox says. “They say their motives are more enlightened than yours. And they think their self-assigned moral superiority gives them the right to dictate to you how to live your life.”

He characterized the Maine initiative as one of many efforts to undermine and even abolish the second amendment. He praised opponents of gun control in Maine — including those who defended Rockland resident Harvey Lembo.

“Whose home was broken into five times before he got a gun to protect himself — only to have the housing authority tell him ‘get rid of the gun, or get out,’ he says. “Thanks to many of the legislators in this room and your great Governor LePage, a bill was passed and signed into law to prevent that from every happening again. But folks that’s the ultimatum we face in this year’s elections.”

According to the NRA, Lembo and his landlord settled their dispute this week in an out-of-court agreement that, quote “recognizes the validity” of Maine’s new law protecting gun ownership in subsidized housing. But that could not be independently verified.

The proposal on the November ballot in Maine would require background checks for most gun sales in Maine to be conducted by a federally-license gun dealer, with some exceptions, such as when a gun is needed in a self-defense emergency. Backers, including former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, have contributed more than $2 million in the campaign to get the measure passed.

As of the last campaign finance reporting period, the NRA had raised less than 40,000 dollars to oppose the measure. In an interview, Cox said the NRA does plan a full-fledged campaign in Maine, including television ads.

A Columbia University graduate, Fred began his journalism career as a print reporter in Vermont, then came to Maine Public in 2001 as its political reporter, as well as serving as a host for a variety of Maine Public Radio and Maine Public Television programs. Fred later went on to become news director for New England Public Radio in Western Massachusetts and worked as a freelancer for National Public Radio and a number of regional public radio stations, including WBUR in Boston and NHPR in New Hampshire.