Friday, May 16, 2008

Maine Crime Guns Go North and South

Two years ago Stop Handgun Violence unveiled a new 250-foot billboard near Fenway Park in Boston. The message: “Stop Traffic – Background Checks Stop Crime” pointing to four states that provide high numbers of crime guns to Massachusetts. One of the states was Maine.
ATF gun trace data shows that Maine is the second leading crime gun source state for Massachusetts and that the number of guns traced back to Maine has risen over the past few years.
Maine’s weak gun laws allow criminals easy access to guns. In May, 2006, a Lynn, Massachusetts man pleaded guilty to being an unlicensed arms dealer after being charged with trafficking 28 handguns. The majority of these guns had been purchased in Maine through ads in a local swap and sell guide. These were private sales with no background checks, no records kept, no questions asked.
But Maine guns aren’t just trafficked south into Massachusetts, they are also smuggled north into Canada. Canadian police were busy this week seizing guns smuggled from Maine into Nova Scotia and New Brunswick. In Halifax, police seized assault rifles from at least two addresses. The guns included Uzi and Mac-10 submachine-guns and AR-15 assault rifles.
In New Brunswick, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police worked with the Maine Drug Enforcement Agency and the ATF on an operation that lead to the arrest of 33 people on charges of illegal importation of firearms, drug offences and possession of child pornography. Unfortunately, police believe that the group had already trafficked 99 percent of the guns smuggled into Canada before the raid.
Maine legislators hide behind Maine’s low crime rate as a reason to not pass stronger gun laws. But it is obvious that Maine’s weak guns laws are a danger not just to Mainers but also to its neighbors to the north and the south.