May 23, 2018
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Gun sellers campaign wins national award

By Judy Harrison, BDN Staff

PORTLAND, Maine — A media campaign aimed at addressing the significant problem of firearms and illegal drug trafficking between Maine and Massachusetts won an award Wednesday at a national conference, U.S. Attorney for Maine Thomas E. Delahanty II has announced.

Maine’s Project Safe Neighborhoods’ anti-gun violence initiative received the Outstanding Media Outreach Campaign Award for its Gun Sellers Awareness Campaign at a conference for the Safe Neighbors program held this week in New Orleans.

The target audience of the ongoing campaign is Maine gun owners who sell guns privately rather than at a sporting goods store or pawnshop where background checks are required. Similar background checks are not required in private sales in Maine, but private sellers may ask a federally licensed gun seller to run a background check for them.

Maine gun sellers are vulnerable to people prohibited from buying and owning a gun due to a felony or domestic violence conviction, dishonorable discharge from the military or nonvoluntary admission to a mental hospital, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office.

Over the past decade, guns have been purchased from Maine residents in private sales by people from out of state with fake identifications, who were prohibited from owning firearms, the U.S. Attorney’s Office said Wednesday.

The gun seller safety kits give accurate and engaging information about the hazards of selling firearms to prohibited persons, according to the press release. In addition to the kits, information has been distributed through print ads in sporting and hunting publications in which guns for sale are advertised and in television ads.

The program was launched in 2005 by Delahanty’s predecessor, Paula Silsby, in collaboration with the Maine Department of Public Safety, the Sportsman’s Alliance of Maine and Maine Citizens Against Handgun violence. A formal advertising campaign, launched in 2007, allowed thousands of gun seller kits to be distributed around the state, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office.

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