March 21, 2019
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Here’s the reason we don’t know how many guns are in Maine

Rick Lozier, manager of Van Raymond Outfitters, shows one of the small handguns on sale in the Brewer store in this 2011 photo.

A bill to allow people to carry concealed firearms without permits passed the Maine Legislature this spring, and Gov. Paul LePage signed it Wednesday. Will it change the state of gun ownership in Maine?

It’s actually not possible to get statistics on annual firearms sales because both licensed dealers and people who purchase guns in private deals are not required to report them.

But licensed dealers have to request background checks through the FBI.

Those figures show that the number of background checks completed through the National Instant Criminal Background Check System has been rising.

Background checks for gun sales increased 76 percent in Maine between 1999 and 2014. Across the U.S., they increased 129 percent.

The Washington Post has written about the correlation between spikes in gun sales and when Barack Obama won the 2008 presidential election. The number of background checks increased 50 percent over the rest of that year and ultimately sent billions more dollars than projected to the gun industry.

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