Maine’s Gov. Janet Mills was unique in a lot of ways. She’s a Democrat, which isn’t shocking in a pretty blue state, but she was also resistant to some of the more popular gun control proposals out there. For example, she’s expressed her opposition to assault weapon bans and red flag laws.
She was relatively pro-gun in a party that is anything but.
Now, the astute among you may have noticed me speaking more in the past tense regarding Mills and her positions on guns.
Mills said Monday “action is needed” when it comes to gun violence and public safety, despite her past views. She said she would convene various public health experts, advocates, community members and public safety officials to discuss actions to consider.
Responding to a reporter’s question whether she would support a red flag bill, Mills said she would not take any specific proposal off the table.
“There are a lot of ideas out there,” Mills said. “I’m willing to listen to all voices.”
As of Saturday, Goodman said Mills has initiated outreach to legislators to begin considering potential actions.
“The Governor’s Office, as well as the Governor personally, have begun to reach out to legislators on both sides of the aisle,” Goodman wrote. “The Governor has said that she is committed to hearing from people from all viewpoints.”
Now, in fairness to Mills, she hasn’t explicitly said she will support gun control bills. She’s simply saying she wants to hear from all sides. That may just be a politician trying to appear open to something that, right now, is really popular when she has no intention of following through with it.
Or, it could be a signal that she’s going to push some kind of anti-gun agenda and the only real debate is just what form that will take.
It’s impossible to look into someone’s head and/or heart and know exactly what they’re thinking or feeling. As such, we don’t know exactly what direction Mills is leaning.
Yet I can’t help but be nervous about what is going on in Maine.
Maine is typically one of the safest states in the nation. In fact, the death toll from Lewiston is basically the number of homicides the state normally sees in an entire year. They’ve never needed gun control before–no one really does, but it’s been easier to make that argument in Maine due to the low crime rate–but now it’s harder to make that call.
The thing to remember is that their yellow-flag law, a measure that’s nowhere near as invasive as most red flag laws, didn’t get used despite the fact that the Lewiston killer was a prime candidate for it. It failed, so why would a more general red flag law work?
Which, I hope, is something that Mills will be considering going forward.
Hopefully, calmer heads will prevail and Maine won’t get stuck with gun control laws that accomplish nothing but provide something to be ignored the next time a mass shooting happens.