In the last eight years, I have fought hard to protect our environment, lower taxes, increase education funding and make life better for ordinary Mainers. I am ready to bring that commitment to the state Senate. On the campaign trail, I am regularly asked about my position on background checks and ballot Question 3. I want to be perfectly clear on my position by sharing two stories.
A few years ago, just before deer season, I found my .30-30 rifle badly in need of repair. Luckily, a colleague from the State House generously offered to loan me his rifle, which I happily accepted. The Yes on 3 campaign is touting this as an allowable activity on a temporary basis. After some further checking, I have learned that borrowing the rifle for an entire deer season is a violation of the proposed law, unless I first went through a background check.
The second story is about my last firearm transaction. I purchased a single-shot .410-gauge shotgun that is probably older than me for $75. Under this ballot initiative, this casual purchase would be illegal if I did not pay for a background check. This is one of the most basic firearms around, and the seller was a gentleman who drives a school bus. But under this ballot initiative, despite my knowledge of the weapon and the reputable seller, I would be forced to pay for a background check.
Traditionally, ballot initiatives are grassroots efforts to address a specific problem facing the state. Volunteers come together, head out into communities and gather signatures. Here’s what the campaign bankrolled by former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg did instead: Bloomberg’s Maine Moms Demand Action gun control group paid consulting firms hundreds of thousands of dollars to gather those signatures — hardly the grass-roots effort we’ve come to know. Instead, it’s yet another example of an out-of-towner trying to circumvent the spirit of the law in order to tell the good people of Maine how to conduct their lives. Ballot initiatives are part of our democratic heritage. They have, at times, produced tremendous results. But this initiative is a perfect example of politics gone awry.
The facts are simple: Maine’s violent crime rate is among the lowest in the country. Despite such an achievement, a handful of gun control groups funded by Bloomberg have managed to buy their way onto November’s ballot. They want to make it more difficult for good, honest citizens to purchase firearms.
Democracy, as most know it, is a simple process. Voters support candidates who support issues important to them. Once in office, those candidates — now elected officials — offer legislation to address those issues. There’s a debate, a vote, and legislation garnering enough support are then sent to the governor for his signature. Bloomberg’s group is circumventing this process by purchasing themselves a ballot question.
As a billionaire more than 30 times over, Bloomberg didn’t make a dent in his checking account when dropping almost a million dollars in his signature-gathering operation. Now, he’s poured well more than $1 million into the campaign to buy victory for the question he paid handsomely to put on the ballot. The question is, if he’s successful there, then what comes next?
Will he try to ban large sodas in Maine the way he tried to ban them in New York City? Will he try to ban the use of Styrofoam in Maine the way he tried to ban it in New York City? Or will he be satisfied with a restriction on our constitutional right to keep and bear arms?
I’ve served in the state Legislature for nearly eight years and have the privilege to be the House Democratic Majority Leader. During that time I’ve met with thousands of constituents, addressed countless concerns and done everything in my power to improve the life of every Mainer. Though I don’t have a problem with ballot initiatives, I do have a problem with one being spearheaded by a New York City billionaire keen on restricting our Second Amendment rights.
Keep your eye on New York City, and we’ll take care of Maine.
Rep. Jeff McCabe, D-Skowhegan, is the majority leader in the Maine House, a Registered Maine Guide and a candidate for state Senate.