Editorial on Maine's New Gun Laws Divorced from Reality

AP Photo/Philip Kamrass, File

Maine has some new gun control laws coming down the line. This is bad news because Maine was, historically, a pro-gun state with a strong blue streak, thus making it clear that at least some Democrats saw gun control as stupid.


Then Lewiston happened.

A massacre took place and people got scared and/or outraged. When people get scared and/or outraged, they demand laws.

In Maine, enough voices got loud enough that lawmakers folded like lawn chairs and gave it to them. It might not have been everything those voices wanted, but it was enough.

And when the editorial board of a paper that pushed hard for those laws celebrates, it's easy to see who has no relationship with reality.

After an event like the Lewiston shooting, there is naturally a call for quick action to prevent a similar tragedy. There is also pushback that new laws aren’t needed, that, perhaps if current laws had been properly enforced, tragedies like the one on Oct. 25 could have been avoided. This is a natural, and healthy debate.

However, this debate can sometimes be stymied by a familiar criticism of any new gun safety measures; That they wouldn’t have prevented the most recent firearms tragedy or wouldn’t prevent all tragedies. It is possible that there aren’t sufficient laws to prevent every gun murder and suicide. However, it is incumbent upon lawmakers and others to take a close look at the state’s laws to look for gaps, gaps that were exploited in the past and gaps that could contribute to future tragedies.

Just looking backwards does not provide the whole picture of gun violence. In addition, sadly, there are so many gun deaths in the U.S. each year that some patterns have become pretty clear.


Strengthening gun laws, with the aim of preventing future violence, is always a balancing act with also protecting Second Amendment rights. So, it is appropriate and timely for Gov. Mills to call for assessment of the impacts of the new waiting period law and to monitor legal challenges to similar laws in other states.

After a tragedy as significant as last fall’s shooting in Lewiston, there is no one right answer. But, lawmakers and the governor have taken reasonable steps to reduce gun violence in the future.


Except they really haven't.

First, I resent suicides being lumped in with "gun violence," which is what the Bangor Daily News editorial board does in this. While it's easy to argue that shooting yourself is still a violent act, the reality is that these are very different from mass murders or domestic violence homicides. Lumping them in together, whether as "gun violence" or "gun deaths" is nothing more than a pathetic tactic meant to create alarm about a problem that wouldn't otherwise.

As for "gaps" in the law, well, I hate to break to them, those gaps are still there and will always be there.

Oh, in their defense, they do try to present studies that back up those claims, but that's because they wanted to believe those studies at face value. Confirmation bias is a real thing. It said what they wanted to hear so that's good enough.

But those studies are universally problematic. They're problematic not because they say something I don't like but because they're just bad science. The one they cite suggesting waiting periods work to prevent both homicides and suicides simply looked at correlation data including a period in which both were on the decline anyway, then chalked it up to waiting periods working.


The debunking is out there, but the editorial board would rather divorce itself from reality than accept that the gun control laws they touted won't actually accomplish a damn thing.

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