The wounds of Lewiston are still fresh. A lot of people in Maine are rattled about what happened and they want to do something, anything, to make sure nothing like that ever happens again.
In a fairly blue state, that’s going to be gun control for a lot of people.
Granted, this is a state that has a long history of leaning left on most issues but being fairly pro-gun as well. It’s not the kind of place that normally turns to gun control at the drop of the hat.
Lewiston, though, wasn’t the drop of a hat. It was a shooting that accounted for a significant chunk of the state’s total number of homicides in 2023.
So, it’s unsurprising that anti-gunners are trying to use this to push for gun control.
The father of one of the 18 people killed in Lewiston in October said Wednesday that efforts to strengthen Maine’s gun laws are not about taking guns away, but “doing the right thing.”
Arthur Barnard said he was at Schemengees Bar and Grille with his son Arthur Strout, 42, on the night of the killings. Barnard had just left the bar when he got a phone call.
“They didn’t have a chance,” he said. “We have to stop being careless as a nation. Not a Democratic thing. Not a Republican thing. Common sense for all of us.”
Barnard spoke in the State House Hall of Flags in front of hundreds on the Maine Gun Safety Coalition’s Day of Action. Even as hundreds more waited in line outside to get through security, Barnard and others called on legislators to pass new laws on the first day of the new legislative session.
First, Barnard can talk common sense, but common sense also makes it pretty clear that despite how awful Lewiston was, it was an anomaly, not the norm, and that most homicides are carried out by more pedestrian criminals who get guns illegally. That means you can’t stop bad people from doing bad things.
Hell, we’ve covered numerous mass shootings in countries with far more restrictive gun control laws than we have, which means you’re not going to stop it.
But you can empower criminals who want to take advantage of an even partially disarmed populace.
What’s more, a lot of the things these people want were already rejected by the legislature.
Ten days after the Oct. 25 Lewiston shootings, the coalition stood outside the State House with four demands — an assault weapons ban, a red flag law, a 72-hour waiting period to buy a gun and background checks on all gun sales.
Earlier this year, lawmakers rejected some of those measures — including the 72-hour waiting period and the expansion of background checks to cover private sales.
Now, understand a couple of pretty important things here. The waiting period and the universal background check measures have nothing at all to do with Lewiston. The killer didn’t just get his gun, nor did he recently buy it from a friend.
Instead, like most gun control efforts, they’re using the bodies of the slain as a soapbox to try and bully lawmakers into passing anti-gun laws that likely won’t survive legal challenge.
And then we get this nonsense:
On Wednesday, Janel Crowley of the Maine State Nurses Association said 40,167 people in the U.S. died of gun violence in 2023.
“Nurses know moral outrage is not enough,” she said. “Thoughts and prayers do nothing and cannot protect anyone from a bullet.”
Nurses should also know that most of those people died from suicide, which has a different set of causes than homicides or even accidents. Moral outrage might not be enough, but neither does manipulating statistics to make them seem more terrifying.
Thoughts and prayers aren’t intended to protect anyone, but it should be noted that gun control doesn’t protect anyone from a bullet, either.
Those intending to hurt others still get guns.
Even if they couldn’t, though, there would still be ways they could hurt the unarmed, which is the world this organization–one that doesn’t actually speak for all nurses, it should be noted–seems to want.
Luckily, there’s good news.
If Maine can hold out for this legislative session, there’s a good chance the furor will die down and they can get back to real, useful business and not have to keep debating gun control. The question is whether they can.