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Requirement for background checks when lending guns used to target Question 3

by Kevin Miller | Portland Press Herald  |  Published on November 3, 2016

The debate over Question 3 is increasingly focused on language that would require background checks before Mainers could loan guns to each other, an issue that has allowed opponents to rally hunters and other gun owners against the ballot measure.

The gap between supporters and opponents of Question 3 on the Nov. 8 ballot appears to be narrowing with one week left until Election Day. While most major ballot initiatives in Maine see their support wane as the election nears, Question 3 witnessed a significant drop in support, from 61 percent to 52 percent, while the opposition increased by 10 points, from 33 percent to 43 percent, according to two Portland Press Herald polls conducted roughly five weeks apart.

Supporters downplayed the results and suggested the polling – conducted Oct. 20-25 – already was dated.

“We feel comfortable we are in a stronger position than that poll shows, although we are not going to complain about a nine-point lead,” said David Farmer, spokesman for Mainers for Responsible Gun Ownership, the campaign behind Question 3.

But a leading opponent suggested that the costly, high-profile campaign could be undone by the organizers’ decision to require background checks before gun loans or “transfers,” in addition to the private-sale background checks that are the primary focus of Question 3.

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