For years, gun safety advocates have tried to mandate background checks for gun sales in an effort to secure state-level victories that have failed in Congress. Now, advocates for gun safety are spending millions of dollars in Maine and Nevada to support ballot initiatives to do so ahead of the November 8 election.
The massive amount of money that is being spent could secure a win for gun control groups since efforts to get federal legislation passed following the 2012 Newtown, Connecticut, elementary school massacre that left 26 children and teachers dead.
Maine and Nevada are not alone, voters in Washington State and California will also vote on gun control proposals. Polls indicate that the measures will likely pass in all four states.
Billionaire and former New York City Mayor, Michael Bloomberg, is the founder of the gun control group, Everytown for Gun Safety. He has been the financial driving force behind these measures and plans to spend some $25 million nationwide on these efforts.
If the proposals in Maine and Nevada were to pass, half of the U.S. population would live in states with expanded background checks, including private sales not involving a licensed dealer.
Those that oppose these measures argue that the laws are poorly written and would punish law abiding citizens rather than help fight crime. A University of New Hampshire poll in late October found 52 percent of Maine residents support the measure and 43 percent oppose it.
The strategy used by Everytown is self purported to mirror the state-by-state tactic that helped legalize gay marriage across the United States. Zach Silk, a consultant who has worked with Everytown in Nevada and previously helped oversee Washington State’s 2014 successful background-check ballot initiative said, “One of the great advantages of going directly to the electorate is that you can go around the legislative bodies and make law.”
David Trahan, the executive director of the Sportsman’s Alliance of Maine and a former state legislator said, “This law is convoluted and way over regulatory. It reflects the person funding this initiative, Michael Bloomberg. His solutions are overkill, and they border on social engineering.”