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U.S.A. — On January 13, 2023, LD 168 was introduced into the Maine Legislature by Speaker Talbot Ross of Portland, cosponsored by Representative Salisbury of Westbrook.

LD 168 was designed to eliminate most private sales of modern firearms by requiring the sale to be conducted through a federally licensed dealer and recorded in the dealer’s records. The bill specifically targeted gun shows, online distributors, or printed publications advertising firearms for sale. Law enforcement was exempted. The fine for the first offense was set at $1000.  From LD 168:

2. Requirement. If neither the seller nor buyer of a firearm is a federally licensed firearms dealer, the transaction must be facilitated by such a dealer. The dealer shall perform a criminal background check using the Federal Bureau of Investigation, National Instant Criminal Background Check System of the buyer in the same manner as if the dealer were the seller of the firearm that is the subject of the transaction. If the criminal background check reveals that the buyer is prohibited from purchasing a firearm, the dealer shall notify the seller of that fact. The dealer may charge a reasonable fee for serving as the facilitator.

On June 26, the bill passed the Maine House of Representatives with a vote of 70 to 65, with 16 absent. Six Democrats voted against the bill, along with 59 Republicans. LD 168 was sent to the Maine Senate. On June 27, 2023, in the Maine State Senate, the bill was defeated 21 to 13, with one senator absent.   Nine Democrats and twelve Republican senators voted to defeat the bill.

The purpose of moving legitimate sales of firearms into a system where the sales are approved by a government agency and recorded is an attempt to move to a universal system of firearms registration.

Such a system was gradually put into place in England and Wales and is in place in most of the world. Sales are not private sales if they must be approved by government agents and recorded in digital or paper records available to the government.

Universal registration systems have not been successful in reducing crime, either overall or with firearms, as first noted by Constable Colin Greenwood in his work at Cambridge University. The number of illegally owned firearms often increases after the requirement for registration is passed. While those pushing for restrictions on the ownership of firearms use the generic “guns are bad” argument, the underlying push, as found by Greenwood, Academic Joyce Lee Malcomb, and others, appears to be reducing the power of the population to oppose those holding the reins of power.

The requirement for universal registration of handguns, in place for over 60 years in Canada, did not solve one violent crime. The resources wasted in these efforts were immense. There is no question that if the resources (all resources are limited) were used for more police, far more crimes could have been solved or possibly prevented.

The claim of this sort of legislation is it will keep people who should not have guns from obtaining guns. The reality is the legislation does not do what is claimed. The seldom mentioned part is the cost of the legislation is real and harmful.

With the number of guns and gun owners in the United States of America rising steeply, the cost to politicians of such flagrantly failed schemes is also likely to rise.

About Dean Weingarten:

Dean Weingarten has been a peace officer, a military officer, was on the University of Wisconsin Pistol Team for four years, and was first certified to teach firearms safety in 1973. He taught the Arizona concealed carry course for fifteen years until the goal of Constitutional Carry was attained. He has degrees in meteorology and mining engineering, and retired from the Department of Defense after a 30 year career in Army Research, Development, Testing, and Evaluation.

Dean Weingarten

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