Maine considers new gun bills for 2023

Maine considers new gun bills for 2023
AP Photo/Keith Srakocic

The new year is kind of an arbitrary point in time. We could, in theory, start the year in the middle of summer if we wanted and it wouldn’t make a whole lot of difference. Yet the new year represents a lot of things to a lot of people. It represents hope and a new beginning for many.

It also represents the time of year when gun bills, both good and bad, start popping up in state legislatures.

For example, pro-gun Maine has a couple of measures being introduced.

A bill to require a three-day waiting period after purchasing a gun and one to allow trained school employees to carry firearms will go before Maine lawmakers in the coming weeks.

The bills come just two months after several schools shut down in November following what turned out to be a hoax threat of a school shooter.

Rep. Steven Foster (R-Dexter) is sponsoring a bill that would allow certain school employees to carry firearms on school property if they have a concealed carry permit and have completed training.

Foster, who served on the Dexter school board for 12 years, said school shootings at Sandy Hook Elementary in Connecticut, Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Florida and Robb Elementary School in Texas fueled his concern about safety at Maine schools.

“I’ve looked at this and I’ve thought about it and the final straw on the camel’s back for me was after Uvalde,” he said.

Foster’s measure would allow a school employee to carry a firearm on school property if the employee has completed certification and training set by the Board of Trustees of the Maine Criminal Justice Academy.

Now, I’m actually supportive of Foster’s bill. Armed teachers are likely to do wonders to reduce school shootings significantly, and not just mass shootings. Most “school shootings” aren’t Uvalde or Parkland. They’re some punk kid who brings a gun to school in order to settle a score.

Regardless, those same punk kids are going to be less likely to do it if they know there’s a chance teachers are carrying guns.

Plus, of course, mass shooters tend to prefer places where their potential victims can’t fight back. That’s why such a staggering percentage of such shootings happen in gun-free zones.

And when they don’t, well, we’ve seen how those shootings go when an armed citizen is present.

So arming teachers makes a lot of sense.

Three-day waiting periods, however, don’t.

There are some studies that suggest they reduce suicides, though I’m unconvinced. Mostly because those studies typically only looked at gun suicides, not suicide as a whole. That’s important because if there’s no overall reduction in suicide, and there isn’t because there are lots of ways to take your own life, there’s nothing to be gained from a waiting period.

Even if they were effective at preventing suicide as a whole, they also create problems that aren’t easily worked around. For example, someone needing a gun quickly because of a viable threat to their life can be killed while waiting for the law to allow them a gun.

So no, waiting periods should be a no-go.

And, based on what I’ve seen from Maine, I actually would be surprised to see a waiting period law pass. Despite being pretty blue, they’re also pretty pro-gun. That said, we’ll just have to wait and see how things go in the legislature.