Maine is one of the safest states in the nation. Historically, they never see triple-digit homicides for the entire state, much less in any single community.
In fact, part of what made the Lewiston shooting so horrific was that it killed as many people in one incident has the state has seen in entire years.
Ever since Lewiston, we’ve been debating gun control. Maine, despite being a pretty liberal state, has long been a pro-gun state as well. The mass shooting in Lewiston threatens to change that.
But the Bangor Daily News figured they’d try to put all the state’s lawmakers on the spot regarding potential laws they support, and that didn’t go well.
Only 15 of Maine’s 185 state lawmakers responded to a Bangor Daily News survey on how they would use their influence to make reforms following the deadliest mass shooting in state history.
Maine is the rare kind of liberal-leaning state with loose gun laws and a high rate of gun ownership. The Legislature has historically rejected gun control measures, doing so as recently as earlier this year. But the Democrats who lead Augusta seem ready to advance them in 2024.
The scant responses to the survey show the sensitivity of the conversations, especially among a bloc of centrist Democrats that has joined with Republicans to block gun control in the past. Some progressives have outlined a desire for changes such as background check expansions and waiting periods, while Republicans argued against gun measures and for mental health reforms.“I need help from all the sides to approach it the right way so that something gets done, and it’s not another thing that just gets a lot of talk,” said Rep. Ron Russell, D-Verona Island, who represents a swing district along Penobscot Bay.
Leroy Walker, a Republican city councilor in Auburn whose son, Joseph, died in the Oct. 25 shooting, called out GOP lawmakers and said their responses focused on mental health are “prolonging what needs to be done to slow these weapons down.”
“If they weren’t under a rock, they should know that something needed to happen a long time ago,” Walker said, adding he supports the Second Amendment but wants to see waiting periods for firearm purchases, a “red flag” law in Maine and limits on guns that can “rapidly fire.”
And that’s why no one responded.
See, right now, a lot of people are emotional. Walker, for example, is emotional and I get why he feels that way. I’ve been there.
Because of that emotion, no one wants to respond to a newspaper’s survey of lawmakers in Maine and get themselves in a crack they can’t get themselves out of.
Walker is now committed to pushing for these kinds of laws, even if he comes to realize that none of these measure will do anything. He’s also scuttled any argument he thinks he can make about supporting the Second Amendment. Even if I were willing to accept waiting periods and red flag laws, “limits on guns that can ‘rapidly fire'” is going to be a big no-go for me and for a lot of other people.
He’s committed and can’t back away. The only good side to this for anyone in Maine is that he’s a city official and has no say in statewide legislation.
Other lawmakers aren’t necessarily that stupid. They’re not going to commit themselves to a course of action based on emotion, especially as there’s plenty of reason to believe that Maine voters will settle down in time and the current support for gun control will fade.
So no, no one answered the survey. There’s literally nothing to gain from doing so.