The shooting in Lewiston rattled the pro-gun yet blue state of Maine to its core. No one was shocked to see at least some try to push gun control in the wake of such a horrific shooting.
It’s what always happens following a mass shooting, after all. We’ve seen it more times than we care to count.
But since the legislature isn’t in session, there’s not a lot anyone can do right now in Maine. Even those who want to pass gun control have to wait before they can really do anything.
Whether that includes Gov. Janet Mills or not remains to be seen. She’s not pushing any anti-gun law at the moment, at least, which means she might well be one of the saner members of the state government right now.
Someone who I wouldn’t classify as such is the former mayor of Portland, Maine and self-proclaimed member of Maine Democratic Socialists of America, Ethan Strimling.
Strimling penned an op-ed blasting the governor for not doing…well…something.
On Nov. 28, I pointed out in this space that a month had passed since 31 people were shot in Lewiston, ME, and Gov. Janet Mills had still not proposed a single piece of gun safety legislation.
I honestly didn’t imagine that six weeks later, after the start of the legislative session, we would be in the same spot.
At a minimum, I expected that even if what she proposed was inadequate, Gov. Mills would propose something to show that she cares about slowing gun violence in Maine.
Perhaps she would have proposed strengthening her yellow flag law to show some recognition that her past effort was inadequate. Or maybe she would bring back her campaign pledge to expand background checks. Or maybe she would embrace the policy conversion of fellow conservative Democrat Rep. Jared Golden and finally see that assault weapons must be banned. Or maybe she would signal support for a simple seven day waiting period to help reduce impulse suicides and the murdering of women in abusive relationships.
Anything, to show that the 18 who died in Lewiston and the 650+ others killed by guns in Maine since Mills became governor (not even including 2023), is not going unnoticed.
But, here we are. Seventy five days from the worst mass shooting in Maine’s history and she has proposed nothing.
Strimling is upset that Mills hasn’t proposed any kind of gun control while, frankly, she couldn’t do anything about it even if she had. Again, the legislature isn’t in session. They can’t pass laws without that and so there’s no need to rush to present proposals that haven’t been thought all the way through.
Of course, Strimling also tries to present a scary number in order to make the problem look worse than it is.
Here’s some perspective for you.
Chicago has twice the population but had more homicides than that in 2022 alone. Mills, who won her seat back in 2018, needed three years to come to that total–remember, 2023 is excluded.
Yet that number isn’t just homicides. A quick look at Maine’s homicides from 2019 to 2022 found fewer than 90 for the entire state.
Strimling is doing that typical anti-gunner trick of pretending suicides and homicides are somehow just part of the same problem despite the fact that they have very different causes.
See, he’s upset that Mills isn’t tripping over herself to propose gun control legislation because, frankly, she’s not progressive enough for a socialist like him.
I’m not saying that Mills won’t propose some gun control legislation and I’m not saying she’ll be right if she does. What I’m taking issue with is Strimling’s claim that a state with ridiculously low homicide rates suddenly needs gun control because of one single incident.
Even with Lewiston, Maine saw just 51 murders. That was just eight percent of what Chicago saw with a population only twice as large.
Gun control isn’t needed in Maine. The state has wisely avoided it thus far and Mills has wisely avoided pushing it now. Let’s just hope that continues and the socialist former mayor continues to be disappointed.