Waldo County Sheriff appears in TV ad opposing Question 3

NRA-funded spot takes aim at NYC, says law wouldn't make Maine safer
By Ethan Andrews | Oct 17, 2016
Source: votenoquestion3.org Waldo County Sheriff Jeffrey Trafton in an ad featuring nine Maine sheriffs opposing Ballot Question 3.

Maine sheriffs followed up a letter of opposition to Ballot Question 3 recently with a high-production television ad featuring top brass from around the state warning against the referendum question, which would expand background checks for private gun sales.

In a group monologue spanning nine counties by way of their chief law enforcement officers, the ad pans Question 3 as "poorly written" and being pushed by a New York billionaire who does not care about Maine" — a reference to roughly $2.7 million contributed to a political action committee supporting Question 3 by former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg's Everytown for Gun Safety. An affiliated, New York-based group, Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America, has spent $430,000 to support Question 3.

Trafton appears onscreen at about the halfway mark and says in a firm voice that Question 3 "would not stop criminals from getting guns." The line is a setup for Franklin County Sheriff Scott Nichols, who appears throughout the ad. Question 3 "would send law-abiding Mainers to jail," Nichols says.

The word "jail" is repeated for effect by sheriffs from Oxford and Penobscot counties.

"Sheriffs Oppose Question 3" was paid for by the National Rifle Association Institute for Legislative Action. The group's most recent campaign disclosure includes a payment of $189,369.59 to Annapolis Maryland-based Starboard Strategic for TV and digital advertising to oppose Question 3.

The sheriff's ad is one of two TV-length videos on the NRA-funded votenoquestion3.org. The other, a six-plus-minute infomercial featuring Gov. Paul LePage and dozens of sport shooters, includes color commentary by retired Waldo County law enforcement duo John Ford — "Can I say bullshit?" Ford asks before going on to call Question 3 "pure crap." — and Mark Nickerson, who says he thinks of New York City as a "cesspool."

"We don't want that shoved down our throat up here," he says.

Both Nickerson and Ford give substantive arguments later in the video. Nickerson says the law is unenforceable and Ford argues that existing laws are sufficient but aren't being enforced.

Comments (3)
Posted by: Patricia Keyes | Oct 20, 2016 09:51

I'm thrilled that Chief Trafton has stood by us in this matter, and I would encourage everyone to vote NO on ALL the referendums.  They are ALL FUNDED BY OUT-OF-STATE INTERESTS that think we are stupid and gullible and that we can be pawns to advance their bad ideas all over the nation if we fold first, like we're some kind of weak link!  NONE of these referendums were initiated by Maine citizens!!!

Question 1 doesn't necessarily simply make marijuana legal, it makes a bureaucracy so convoluted and costly that medical marijuana will be just AS EXPENSIVE AS BIG PHARMA CANCER DRUGS, and it is BIG PHARMA who is advancing and sponsoring this referendum!  MAINE ALREADY HAS THE BEST MEDICAL LAWS IN THE NATION!  Don't let out-of-staters manipulate us!!!

Posted by: Melvin J. Box | Oct 18, 2016 16:27

"Such loans are fine when you’re hunting with your buddy." Now my understanding is...If your buddy take this gun home with him and is no longer in your presence this now becomes an illegal gun transfer and you both are now in violation of the law. Question 3 is a bad idea. Vote NO.

Posted by: Glen S. Bridges | Oct 18, 2016 10:33

Posted Oct. 17, 2016, at 10:10 a.m.

Do you want to require background checks prior to the sale or transfer of firearms between individuals not licensed as firearms dealers, with failure to do so punishable by law, and with some exceptions for family members, hunting, self-defense, lawful competitions, and shooting range activity?

The vast majority of Americans and gun owners support background check requirements for gun purchases. And federal and Maine law prohibit the sale of firearms to felons, domestic abusers and others deemed too dangerous to own them.

But when thousands of private gun sales and transfers each year aren’t subject to background checks, these prohibited buyers can still easily obtain guns. That’s an outcome that shouldn’t happen under the law, and it could be prevented more often with a background check requirement that applies to more firearm exchanges.

Question 3 on November’s ballot would fill in a clear loophole in Maine law by requiring background checks for all firearms sales and transfers. The ballot measure isn’t a magic solution to keep all guns out of the hands of those who shouldn’t have them. But requiring background checks is one straight-forward change Maine can enact to make it more difficult for someone who shouldn’t have a gun to get one — without unreasonably burdening Maine gun owners who already follow the law.

Story continues below advertisement.

We recommend a “yes” vote on Question 3.

In Maine, background checks blocked 5,501 gun sales between 1998 and 2014, data from the FBI show — evidence that people who shouldn’t own guns often do try to obtain them through legal means. More than half the denials, 2,790, represented attempted purchases by convicted felons; 1,202 were by domestic abusers.

Under current law, these buyers could turn to the internet or publications such as Uncle Henry’s, where guns are easily available, to arrange gun purchases that don’t trigger background checks. When guns can get into the wrong hands so easily, they’re more likely to be used in ways they shouldn’t be.

Between 2006 and 2014, more than 1,510 guns originally purchased in Maine were recovered by law enforcement in other states, according to data collected by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives. One of those guns was the Ruger P95 that Boston Marathon bomber Tamerlan Tsarnaev used to kill an MIT security officer and wound an MBTA security officer in 2013. Maine is the second largest source of out-of-state guns found at Massachusetts crime scenes.

Question 3 opponents have claimed throughout this campaign that those who intend to commit crimes won’t bother to follow the law and submit to a background check. But background checks do stop firearm purchases by prohibited persons. In 2013, Colorado passed legislation requiring background checks for private sales. Through the end of September, those background checks prevented 317 private sales this year. Each background check took 8 minutes, 54 seconds on average, according to the Colorado Bureau of Investigation.

And there’s little coincidence that the six states with the lowest rates of gun-related deaths in the nation — homicides, suicides and accidental deaths — all require background checks for private firearms sales. While Maine has one of the lowest crime rates in the nation, its gun-related death rate in 2013 was nearly four times that of Massachusetts and more than 2½ times that of New York.

Recognizing that background checks improve safety, the Sportsman’s Alliance of Maine — one of the lead groups opposing Question 3 — in 2009 advocated for passage of legislation directing the Maine Department of Public Safety, with SAM’s assistance, to help private gun sellers conduct background checks.

This year, the Sportsman’s Alliance of Maine and other opponents have relied on a variety of absurd and false arguments about the initiative’s potential consequences. You’d be a criminal, they argue, if your buddy drops his gun in the mud during a hunting trip and you loan him yours. Such loans are fine when you’re hunting with your buddy. You can’t have a babysitter in your house if you own a gun, another argument goes. But someone staying temporarily in your house does not own it or its contents, so a babysitter would not suddenly own a gun that is in a home any more than she’d own the car in the garage — or the children she is caring for.

The law also explicitly allows firearms transfers within families.

Question 3 does not take rights away from lawful gun owners — the U.S. Supreme Court has ruled that background checks are constitutional and do not infringe on 2nd Amendment rights. Instead, it closes off an avenue of unchecked gun sales to people who are prohibited from owning them, making us all safer.



If you wish to comment, please login.