Maine is something of an anomaly. It’s a rather liberal state with a strong history of supporting gun rights. Anti-gunners have tried to push gun control there and been met with limited success, despite the leftward lean of the state on most other points.
But the shooting in Lewiston threatens to change that.
While it’s unlikely the state will suddenly emulate New York or California, a lot of anti-gun voices feel a lot more confident about their chances to push gun control laws.
One that they’re considering may be one of the most egregiously wrong policies anti-gunners routinely endorse. They want to try and allow lawsuits against gun manufacturers.
Maine lawmakers are set to consider gun-control proposals in the wake of the October mass shooting in Lewiston, including one that would let Mainers sue the gun industry over injuries from illegal firearm sales.
Rep. Rebecca Millett, D-Cape Elizabeth, had introduced the bill last April, about six months before the Oct. 25 mass shooting at a Lewiston bowling alley and bar that left 18 dead and 13 injured. The measure was carried over to 2024 and now has additional importance following Maine’s deadliest mass shooting on record.
It was the subject of contention between groups on both sides of the gun debate last year. The newly updated measure was scheduled to be the first one up for debate this year, though the Legislature’s Judiciary Committee called a hearing on it off due to snow on Tuesday afternoon.
Millett’s bill has several Democratic cosponsors and the support of gun-control advocacy groups such as Moms Demand Action. A National Rifle Association leader argued last year that it “would shut down firearm commerce in Maine overnight.”
Under the proposal, Maine would join eight states including Colorado and New York that have enacted laws since 2021 allowing lawsuits against the firearm industry for illegal conduct, per the Giffords Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence.
Frankly, this is the wrong way to go.
Anti-gunners want to pass this in Maine not because it would really accomplish anything to reduce violent crime in the state but because it gives them the opportunity to punish an industry they can’t really punish otherwise.
And I’m still not convinced that the law will stand.
See, the problem with most of these laws is that they try to get around the Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act by attacking the marketing of said guns. What they don’t require, though, is evidence that a killer actually saw any of the marketing.
Now, if advertising of a product is so ubiquitous that it’s impossible to escape it–think tobacco back in the day or beer even today–then you could probably make the case that’s not necessary.
But guns aren’t advertised during Monday Night Football.
For the most part, you almost have to go looking for firearm marketing materials. You have to either consume outdoor-focused media of some form, either written media or television, or actually go to the companies’ social media to see that sort of thing.
Yet somehow, this marketing is driving people to commit murder despite no evidence these people ever saw said marketing? Yeah, I have an issue here, and I wouldn’t be surprised if the courts see it that way in due course.
It’s unlikely Maine’s law will be an exception to this nonsense, either.
Hopefully, despite Lewiston, Maine won’t be stupid enough to pass this atrocity.