Maine legislators are considering a new bill that would make it illegal to sell firearms to people who are otherwise prohibited from owning a firearm.
The bill is sponsored by Rep. Mark Dion (D), who is presenting the bill to the House and Senate. The bill will target all private firearm sales, which includes sales through private businesses as well as person-to-person transactions. Proponents of the bill argue that these types of transactions make up as much 40 percent of all gun sales in the state.
Dion argued that the bill would close the gun show loophole. At gun shows, people can buy guns with cash, easily avoiding background checks and incriminating paper trails. If passed, Dion’s bill would force gun retailers at gun shows to take a good hard look at potential customers to ensure that the purchase is on the up-and-up.
The biggest advantage of the bill is that it would make it harder for criminals to get their hands on guns, and it gives another reason for straw purchasers to think twice about circumventing the law.
One major downside, however, is that the bill would make sellers partially responsible for all transactions. Some gun retailers are genuinely honest businessmen who are simply trying to make a living. This bill would endanger honest gun retailers by making every sale a potential crime. Essentially, the bill would make law-abiding citizens at least partially responsible (to the tune of a $50 to $1000 fine) for the criminal behavior of others.
Additionally, gun rights advocates generally react negatively to extra red tape. The bill would likely slow down gun transactions because retailers would be forced to perform background checks.
Luckily, the bill would establish a defense for gun sellers who attempt to make a background check. Gun sellers will be protected if they perform a background check, sell a firearm to a customer, and then it later turns out that the customer shouldn’t have been allowed to purchase the gun.
This bill mirrors the federal background check bill that was defeated a few months ago. Do you think that Maine legislators should repeat history and vote against this bill, or is this Maine’s opportunity to pass much-needed gun control legislation?