Commentary

Question 3 Should Be Called the Gun Registry Bill

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Question 3 on the November ballot calls for Universal Background Checks on all private sales and transfer on firearms. But it is unenforceable; it creates an unfunded mandate and it is the first step toward gun registration.

The name of this proposal is misleading. Universal Background Checks are not “universal” because criminals will never follow this law. Criminals get guns by breaking existing laws. They steal them, buy them on the black market or use straw purchasers. Less than one percent of criminals get firearms from dealers at gun shows.

This proposal won’t do anything to stop criminals from getting guns. It should be called the Gun Registry Bill.  That’s because so-called Universal Background Checks cannot be enforced without requiring complete gun registration.

This Gun Registry Bill is being financed by liberal billionaire Michael Bloomberg. He wants the government to know if you own firearms. Bloomberg’s proposal would criminalize law-abiding firearms owners who loan or transfer guns to each other. Any time one person hands a firearm to another person, they could be convicted of a misdemeanor. A first offense could result in jail time of up to a year and a $2,000 fine.

Under Bloomberg’s Gun Registry Bill, transfers or loans of firearms would only be lawful if both people appear together at a licensed gun dealer, get background checks and pay fees. Both people would have to go through the same process when the firearm is returned. Having to pay fees for transfers or loans of firearms is an unfunded mandate on responsible gun owners.

Supporters say Bloomberg’s proposal exempts transfers for hunting and shooting ranges, but the exemptions are confusing. For example, a firearm can be borrowed to shoot at an shooting range. But borrowing your friend’s gun to hunt on public land would be an illegal transfer.

Game wardens would not be able to enforce this law. If they encounter a hunter and ask whose shotgun he is using, the hunter can say it belongs to him. The warden would have no way to determine if the shotgun was loaned or transferred to the hunter legally or illegally under Bloomberg’s law.

So don’t be fooled. Bloomberg’s proposal is not enforceable. It’s not going to prevent criminals from having guns. And it’s not really about lawful transfers of firearms. It’s all about creating a gun registration so Michael Bloomberg and the government will know if you own a gun.

When Bloomberg solves the problem of gun violence in Chicago and his hometown of New York City, then he can come lecture us about firearms. Until then, he should stay out of Maine and keep his hands off our guns.

About Paul LePage

Governor Paul LePage (R) has served as the 74th Governor of Maine since 2011. Prior to his time as governor, LePage served as the general manager of Marden's and as the mayor of Waterville.

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