Mills Proposals Aren't Great, but They Could Be Worse

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When I write about Democrats, it's usually in the context of them being anti-gun. There's a reason for that, too. After all, the vast majority of Democrats are anti-gun while most Republicans aren't.


Granted, there are exceptions to every rule, of course, but these generalities hold up in most cases.

Maine's Gov. Janet Mills is an interesting case, though.

She doesn't exactly push the pro-gun agenda the way someone like Cam or I might, but she's also not been exactly tripping over herself to pass gun control in the state, either.

And Maine is a significantly blue state, just one with a history of standing by the Second Amendment. It's kind of weird, in a way.

Yet the shooting in Lewiston last year may have upset that apple cart. People are pushing for gun control and Mills has rolled out a legislative agenda that seeks to address the problems, and that includes some gun control.

Mills said there is broad support for the kind of changes in her proposals, which would also establish a violence-prevention program at the Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention. The proposals would need to find support in a state with a higher percentage of gun ownership than most of the Northeast.

“They are practical, common-sense measures that are Maine-made and true to our culture and our longstanding traditions while meeting today’s needs. They represent meaningful progress, without trampling on anybody’s rights, and they will better protect public safety,” Mills said.

One of Mills' proposals would strengthen the state's extreme risk protection order law. Some law enforcement personnel have said the state's yellow flag law made it difficult to remove shooter Robert Card's weapons despite clear warning signs. Mills said her change would allow law enforcement to seek a protective custody warrant to take a dangerous person into custody to remove weapons.

Another proposal would extend the National Instant Criminal Background Check System to advertised, private sales of firearms. Still another would incentivize the checks for unadvertised, private sales.

The proposals would also establish a statewide network of crisis receiving centers so that a person suffering a mental health crisis could get care swiftly, Mills said.


Now, there are a couple of proposals that aren't going to sit well with pro-gun folks; namely the changes to the state's yellow flag law and the background check requirement for certain private sales.

However, let's also recognize one very important fact: After something like Lewiston, these proposals could be a lot worse.

For example, the yellow flag law may now include law enforcement, but think about who all isn't included in this. There's no current or former family members or romantic partners, for one thing, nor is there much of anyone else. Including law enforcement may not be great, but Mills is also faced with political realities in a blue state that was just gut-punched by a mass shooting.

The fact that this won't turn it into a full-out red flag law is a minor miracle.

The same with the expanded background checks.

I mean, it only includes "advertised" private gun sales. That's not great and I'm not supportive of it, but we also know that most private sales aren't necessarily advertised in the first place. It also, of course, depends on how one defines "advertised," so that will matter significantly--will just mentioning you want to sell a gun in a crowd count?--but it's also a far crime from universal background checks like many are demanding.

Mills is in a tough spot. She has been surprisingly pro-gun during her tenure as governor, but people are freaking out after Lewiston. So, she comes up with a couple of minimally invasive gun control laws and a handful of measures that address some of the mental health issues like what led to Lewiston, and hopefully put all of it to bed without completely screwing gun owners over.


After all, there's no assault weapon ban. There's no permit-to-purchase requirements. There are no mental illness screening requirements. 

It's not great, but let's be real here, it could be a lot worse.

What's more, I don't think Mills will expend a great deal of political capital pushing those two measures, so if gun owners in Maine step up, they might be able to defeat those two measures easily enough. 

So yeah, while it could be so much better, it could also be a lot worse.

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