Gun Control Not the Answer for Lewiston

AP Photo/Lisa Marie Pane

The horrific shooting in Lewiston, Maine was something of an anomaly. After all, there are few states as safe as Maine is historically. In fact, the death toll from Lewiston is all the more shocking when you recognize that it was more than the total number of homicides there some years.


Gun control was proposed in the wake of Lewiston, despite the noted failures of existing anti-gun laws already on the books in the state. This is to be expected because, well, it’s what always happens.

And we shouldn’t be too shocked that a newspaper in the state thinks it’s the universal answer to gun ills.

By voting down a handful of simple, unimposing gun control proposals earlier this year, state lawmakers failed Mainers.

Come Jan. 3, the same lawmakers have an opportunity to pass emergency legislation that would – at minimum – right the shameful oversights of the first legislative session. The outpouring of public support for action on guns should mean the writing is on the wall; our elected representatives need to realize they have no choice now but to correct them.

Early reports on the antsy work arising from the mass shootings in Lewiston on Oct. 25 heralds a mixed bag of bills in development.

This forthcoming wave of proposals will undoubtedly contain some duds. A suggestion (by Republican Sen. Eric Brakey) that the state issue a commemorative license plate is a good example of the type of “thoughts and prayers” reflex that we could all do without.

It appears there will be a host of proposals to improve mental health care and a few related to victim support. These are necessary areas of focus. The legislating that most urgently needs to be done, however, and which we know to be the most contentious, must focus on preventing shootings rather than trying to repair their devastating aftermath.

Although high-profile leaders like U.S. Rep. Jared Golden and state Senate President Troy Jackson have been vocal about reconsidering their opposition to conditions on gun ownership after the Lewiston shootings, we know better than to think this will be either widely representative or persuasive enough to bring staunch gun control opponents around.


This, however, is a good thing.

While people like to throw out phrases like “commonsense gun control” or “gun safety legislation,” the truth of the matter is that even if you made guns impossible for anyone to own, someone will still find a way to commit mass murder.

In China, a man with a knife killed six children. We’ve seen mass shootings claim fewer lives.

We’ve seen mass murders here in the US where a firearm wasn’t involved. Hell, there was a horrific mass murder in Japan where guns are heavily restricted.

So if this can happen even when guns simply aren’t available to most people, why would anyone assume anything would be different here in the United States? Especially when our non-gun homicide rate is already higher than many nations’ total homicide rate. Yes, including Japan’s.

Typically in the wake of a mass shooting, support for gun control shoots up. Part of that is a knee-jerk reaction to the tragedy and part of that is stoked by an anti-gun media that seems intent on presenting absolutely no other potential solutions, much less provide discussion that doesn’t center around restricting people’s rights.

Yet Maine has been a very pro-gun state for decades and has enjoyed some of the lowest crime rates in the nation. Lewiston stands so stark in people’s minds because it’s not a violent place to live. Not to say so many people dead wouldn’t be enough reason to rattle people, mind you.


Gun control, though, isn’t the answer. Not if we can see so many other ways the demented might slaughter innocent people without a firearm.

If we were to instead focus on the people who might do these sorts of things, figure out what makes them carry out such terrible attacks, we can not only fight mass shootings but all other forms of mass murder.

Why is this so hard for some people to comprehend?

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