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Maine Police Chiefs Group Backing Expanded Background Checks on Gun Sales

Barbara Cariddi
Maine Chiefs of Police Association Executive Director Robert Schwartz announces the group's support for Question 3 on Maine's November ballot at a news conference in Gorham.

PORTLAND, Maine - The Maine Chiefs of Police Association has come out in support of Question 3, the November ballot initiative that would expand background checks for gun sales in Maine.

And at a press conference this morning in Gorham, the association's executive director, Robert Schwartz, said Maine law now requires commercial gun dealers to conduct background checks on buyers, but he said that's not enough.

"There's been a loophole in the Maine law and it's easy for dangerous people to buy guns from strangers they meet on line, with no questions asked," Schwartz said. "Question 3 would close the loophole, requiring background checks for all gun sales."

An unknown number of private gun sales take place in Maine every year, through sites like Uncle Henry's and Armslist.com. Research by supporters of Question 3 estimates that there are about 3,000 unlicensed gun sales every year.

Members of the Police Chief's Association say expanding background checks to private sales won't solve gun crime on its own, but they say it's an important tool in efforts to end gun crime, and the movement of illegal guns.

Opponents to the expanded background checks say they would make it harder for law-abiding citizens to get guns, while doing nothing to prevent criminals from getting them. 

Both sides of the Question 3 campaign are attracting lost of out-of-state money:  The "pro" side has gotten most of its funding from Everytown for Gun Safety, a gun control group founded by Michael Bloomberg; the National Rifle Association is backing the effort against Question 3.