Bishop Stephen Lane of the Diocese of Maine writes that a few easy fixes to his state’s gun laws could save lives. In an oped in the Bangor Daily News, Lane mentions the work of the 52-member Bishops Against Gun Violence group within the Episcopal Church’s House of Bishops. According to its website the groups has “come together to explore means of reducing the appalling levels of gun violence in our society, and to advocate for policies and legislation that save lives.”
In the 2013 legislative session, I supported LD 1240, a bill that would have required background checks for gun sales outside of those sold to family members. The bill, which also tightened restrictions on purchases by those who have been treated involuntarily for mental illness and required firearm safety training prior to sales, was passed by both houses before being vetoed by Gov. Paul LePage. In the next legislative session, it is my hope that faith leaders and civic leaders can join together to support the reintroduction of that bill or one like it.
While Maine statute allows local law enforcement discretion around the issuance of concealed weapon permits as well as the inspection of gun dealers, there are many more laws enacted in other states that would help to protect our citizens. Several laws are low-hanging fruit in terms of public safety. Here are a few: Anyone who buys a gun providing false information (enacted in 26 states) or a gun dealer who sells a gun without a proper background check (enacted in 24 states) face criminal charges. In fewer than 10 states, criminal charges are made against anyone who buys a gun for someone who is otherwise ineligible to buy one legally. Fewer than 20 states have a law on the books that makes it a criminal offense to leave a firearm unsecured in the presence of a child. I believe Maine should be one of them.
Do you agree that such laws should be passed?