The state of Maine is one of the safest states in the nation. They’ve got ridiculously low crime, which some might try and attribute to them being a blue state.
However, they’re also pretty pro-gun, all things considered. It’s an interesting mix, to say the least.
Yet like anywhere else, they’re looking to reduce what crime they have. That’s led to one Republican lawmaker proposing a new gun law.
It’s not a gun law quite the way you’d see in California, though, and it’s got some law enforcement support.
Police in Brewer are working through a Republican lawmaker on changes to gun laws that aim to help them stop an increasing number of armed drug traffickers in Maine.
Sen. Peter Lyford of Eddington has put two bills in on the recommendation of the department that would increase penalties for illegal weapon possession and mimic a federal crime by allowing police here to charge those who buy guns for people barred from having them.
One of the bills would allow the state to charge Mainers who purchase a gun for someone else. Many who make such “straw purchases” here are out-of-state drug traffickers who persuade Mainers to buy them guns, said Sgt. Chris Martin, Brewer’s deputy chief. This is already a federal crime, but it is usually not prosecuted except in high-level cases.
The second bill would turn misdemeanor crimes around unlawful firearm possession into felonies, allowing stronger enforcement against an increasingly serious problem of armed drug dealers operating in Maine with guns they don’t legally own. It is a problem that has grown amid the opioid crisis and the spread of fentanyl throughout the state and country.
“We need to recognize the relationship between the drug business, trafficking, organized crime, with the violence associated with it,” Martin said.
The problem with these measures is that it’s unlikely to do all that much, either in the short or long term.
See, one issue that lawmakers tend to ignore is that those who commit these kinds of crimes usually think they’re going to get away with it. The potential prison sentence is largely irrelevant to them because they don’t think they’ll get caught.
They’re not master criminals, for the most part, but most people who think they might get arrested are already deciding not to break the law. These guys, though, are different.
So it’s unlikely we’ll see any meaningful difference should these measures pass.
Now, if the purpose is to just lock these people up for longer so they can’t be on the streets committing crimes, well, that’s one thing. I’d likely still disagree with it, but it would at least have a chance of accomplishing its stated goal. However, by targeting straw buyers who would already face federal charges as it is, it suggests the effort is one of deterrence.
If that’s what Maine is hoping to accomplish, they’re going to be disappointed. Frankly, most involved in criminal enterprises are too stupid to be deterred in the first place.