Federal law prohibits felons, domestic abusers and the profoundly mentally ill from purchasing guns from licensed dealers. But right now anyone in Maine who fails a background check at a gun store can simply walk out and purchase a gun in Maine’s private gun market instead — with no background check, no questions asked.

Question 3 on November’s ballot will close this dangerous loophole by expanding background checks to include all gun sales and transfers.

The referendum makes so much sense — and it is polling so strongly with Maine voters — that opponents have begun resorting to false claims trying to defeat it. These claims are easily refuted by facts.

First, opponents claim that Maine doesn’t even have a problem with gun violence. But between 2004 and 2013, 132 Maine residents were murdered with guns and 1,040 killed themselves with guns, according to an Everytown for Gun Safety analysis of data from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. That’s a problem.

The “Maine is safe” argument is especially unconvincing coming from gun rights advocates who spend so much time scaring the bejesus out of us when it comes to self-defense. In an Aug. 3 BDN OpEd, one opponent began by declaring that “we never know where or when evil will strike” so we must have guns ready to “fight back.” Without irony, the opponent also declares Maine doesn’t need the referendum because we don’t have a problem with violent crime.

Let’s face it, many Mainers are indeed unnerved by the spectre of a madman with a gun. And under the referendum, all Mainers legally entitled to buy a gun for self-defense still will be able to. But if we’re really serious about protecting our families, we also have to try to keep the madman from getting a gun in the first place.

This fact is so indisputable, opponents don’t challenge it directly. Instead, they claim background checks won’t work because “criminals don’t obey the law.” The statement “criminals don’t obey the law” can be said about every single law. It’s a truism about criminal law in general, not an argument against any particular law. Would anyone argue we shouldn’t have speed limits or murder statutes because bad drivers and killers won’t obey them?

The facts are clear: Background checks work. Since 1998, background checks in Maine have blocked more than 5,500 gun sales to felons, domestic abusers and people with severe mental illness, according to an Everytown analysis of FBI data. Contrary to what opponents claim, people who intend to harm themselves or others — but are blocked by background checks — do not always just find a gun someplace else. Some change their minds, some don’t know where to get a gun illegally and some are caught trying to do so and on and on.

The end result? Fewer people die. In states with universal background checks, 46 percent fewer women are shot to death by an intimate partner, 48 percent fewer law enforcement officers are killed by guns and there are 48 percent fewer firearm suicides, according to Everytown.

Question 3 won’t prevent every tragedy — no one law can. But if it saves even one life, it’s worth the inconvenience someone might “suffer” by taking that extra step to get a background check.

Finally, opponents claim Question 3 is being imposed on Maine by outsiders. This doesn’t hold up either. More than 84,600 Mainers signed the petition to put Question 3 on the ballot. And Mainers across the state are donating their time and energy to the campaign. More than a thousand of us have volunteered to do the unglamorous work of knocking on doors, canvassing local events and staffing phone banks.

We live and work here. We raise our families, practice our faith, pay taxes and vote here. We are working hard to pass Question 3 for the sake of our families and our communities. We know that Question 3 will save Maine lives while preserving our proud tradition of gun ownership and the individual right to bear arms.

Under Question 3, Mainers legally entitled to guns for self defense, hunting and sport shooting will still have them, but some dangerous or disturbed people who mean to do harm will not. It’s the way life should be.

Ellen Alderman is a mother of five and an attorney who has written extensively on civil rights and constitutional law. She lives in Yarmouth.