Commentary

Lighten Up, Bloomberg

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Anyone who’s ever watched the movie Stripes, starring Bill Murray, about hapless men joining the U.S. Army, should remember the scene where the new recruits are introducing themselves. One of the more disturbed members explains that his real name is Francis, but everyone calls him by his nickname Psycho, and if anyone calls him Francis, he’ll kill them. Naturally, the drill sergeant turns to the new recruit and says, “Lighten up, Francis.”

I’m reminded of this movie scene because today the American people are overburdened by a monumental amount of gun control laws at the federal and state levels, which are impeding the rights of law-abiding American citizens. It is time for the government to lighten up on unnecessary laws, to actually enforce the laws which are necessary and already on the books and to stop trying to add new ones to the already burgeoning bureaucratic mess which is deeply infringing on the Second Amendment.

Maine referendum Question 3 proposes a new gun control law: “Do you want to require background checks prior to the sale or transfer of firearms between individuals not licensed as firearms dealers, with failure to do so punishable by law, and with some exceptions for family members, hunting, self-defense, lawful competitions, and shooting range activity?”

It sounds benign; after all, most people can agree that we’d like reasonable ways to prevent firearms from falling into the hands of convicted criminals. However, a single sentence on a ballot does not a law make. It’s easy enough to get hold of the actual legislation this referendum will put into place, which is four pages long and includes references to additional laws for details not included in those four pages.

I could agree with a background check system if it actually stopped criminals from getting guns without impeding the rights of the American people. However, I find it hard to believe that this piece of legislation is that system. In fact, it seems like another set of laws which will only convolute the issue and constrict the law-abiding American even further in the exercising of his individual rights. It seems like a lot of laws are set up to constrict the rights of Americans these days.

The multi-paged legislation that is Question 3 would require a federal background check at a certified “firearm dealer” every time a “transfer” takes place. The word transfer wasn’t defined in this piece of legislation however, so I looked it up under the Maine criminal codes. According to Subsection 554-A: “‘Transfer’ means to sell, furnish, give, lend, deliver or otherwise provide, with or without consideration” a firearm.

So this referendum applies to the simple lending or furnishing of a firearm. It basically means one cannot borrow a gun.

Now there are exceptions to this law though; you can apparently lend or sell your gun to a close family member. Family members are defined in part 1, subsection B of the legislation. I notice though that you can’t loan a gun to your neighbor who wants to shoot the coyote that’s eating his chickens. A boyfriend can’t lend a firearm to his girlfriend to protect herself if there’s been a string of burglaries in her building, unless he’s actually living with her. Also, the lending of a rifle to a close hunting buddy whose own gun has broken is restricted to certain times and places.

Never fall for questionable wording; when they say a gun may be lent to prevent “imminent” danger, they may define imminent as when the bad guy begins shooting. It causes me concern when the law tolerates the borrowing of a gun “to prevent imminent death.” How do the lawmakers define my knowledge of imminent death; should I be bleeding out?

I don’t have a problem with a reasonable background check system, but this one leaves a lot of open ends where individuals “must each complete, sign and submit all federal and state forms” in order to do what has otherwise been considered perfectly legal and normal up to the present.

I know in some places people must love completing paperwork and making everyone walk in a straight line, but in Maine we generally trust each other, and we seem to do pretty well respecting each other’s rights and freedom. Considering all the other laws currently in effect, I personally would be hesitant to support any new laws until the old ones have been clarified and cut back.

I think it’s time Mainers be given the breathing room they’re already accustomed to, rather than be pulled into big city ideas of gun control.

Billionaire Michael Bloomberg has been helping to push this new law onto Mainers and similar laws on other places around the country, and I think it’s about time we give a response: lighten up, Bloomberg.

About Joshua Durgin

Joshua Durgin works with his father as a Maine lobsterman while taking classes from St. Joseph’s College on psychology and criminal justice. He was homeschooled by his mother, a public school teacher for over thirty years, with special attention to reading and history. In his spare time he enjoys music and debating every philosophical topic under and including the sun. He also gives presentations on politics and theology to those who are interested.

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