PORTLAND, Maine (NEWS CENTER) -- Advocates for changes to our nation's gun laws gathered in communities across the country Saturday, calling on Congress to pass what they call sensible measures to reduce gun violence.
Community leaders, police, and people who have been affected by gun violence joined the fight in Portland Saturday. They are calling on lawmakers to support a bill requiring background checks on all commercial gun sales. They read the names of 33 gun-violence victims, including several Mainers. The names represented the 33 people killed in the U.S. each day in gun-related homicides.
Opponents of expanded background checks like the National Rifle Association say the legislation would not actually prevent many incidents of gun violence, because criminals would simply go around the system and obtain their guns illegally.
Law enforcement who support the legislation say background checks would help solve homicides like Darien Richardson, who was killed with a gun purchased anonymously at a gun show.
"That weapon was sold from the original owner like it was a chair at a lawn sale," said Portland Police Chief Michael Sauschuck. "There's no documentation, there's nothing."
Senator Susan Collins has said she is hopeful republicans and democrats can compromise on the issue. She supports expanded background checks for commercial gun sales, but says transfers among family members should be exempt.
Senator Angus King has expressed his support for President Obama's gun proposals, which include mandatory background checks.