Editorial: The Authorities Messed Up, So Everyone Should Pay

Editorial: The Authorities Messed Up, So Everyone Should Pay
AP Photo/Jae C. Hong

The official premise of gun control is that some people are dangerous and some guns are especially dangerous, so we need to let the authorities handle who can do what so as to keep us all safe.

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Yeah, that’s a little simplistic, but that’s basically what anti-gunners talking about gun control are generally arguing.

If you’ve been on social media recently, particularly where Lewiston is being discussed, you’ve probably seen people who are making argument predicated on that very statement.

If not, well, don’t worry. There are editorial boards that are more than willing to also make those arguments, too.

While it’s likely that Maine’s yellow flag law could have been used to keep guns away from [the killer], it’s also true that police have struggled to put this law into practice due to its cumbersome rules. No doubt, a red flag law, such as one rejected in Maine in favor of the lesser, weaker yellow flag law, would have been easier to apply.

Red flag laws also cover a wider range of dangerous situations, including those situations that don’t involve severe mental illness. Not only would they be helpful in stopping the next mass shooting, they are also far more likely to help a person contemplating suicide.

Whether or not other gun laws could have prevented the Lewiston shootings we cannot know for sure. But universal background checks, waiting periods and bans on large-capacity magazines and assault weapons would, taken together, make it less likely that a dangerous person could obtain a firearm.

Maine law enforcement is undermanned at every level, a troubling set of circumstances that we are told is unlikely to change anytime soon. We understand the limitations that come when every office and every officer is stretched thin.

This bare-bones reality makes it even more important that departments have a protocol in place that details exactly how threats of gun violence are handled and sets out in black and white the manner in which that information is shared with the rest of the law enforcement community.

We need better gun laws. Until we pass them, we need a far higher standard of policing gun violence.

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Now, they acknowledge that Maine’s yellow flag law could have been used, but it wasn’t. They blame the law, however, saying it’s “cumbersome” to use, yet no one seems to have even bothered in this case.

Despite that failure, however, we’re all supposed to bear the burden of punishment because the very authorities we’re meant to trust with more power failed in what they already had.

The editorial board here failed to note that for all the rhetoric about dangerous people, Maine is still one of the safest states in the nation. This one mass shooting will come close to doubling their total homicide numbers, for example. While this was a bad mass shooting, it wasn’t exactly Las Vegas, either.

See, what bothers me here is that the editorial board seems to understand that the system in place failed, but their only solution here is to simply expand gun control.

They don’t remember that we started the year with two mass shootings over two days in heavily gun-controlled California–a state with all of those laws in place–or that we’ve seen plenty of mass shootings in all kinds of places with far more restrictions than we see in Maine.

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I respect them not actively wanting to blame the authorities, but the truth is that it was those authorities that failed here. Sure, hindsight is 20/20 and all that, but they did.

So why should other gun owners have to pay for their mistakes?

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