Lewiston Survivors' Politics Not That Cut and Dried

AP Photo/Charles Krupa, File

We typically see the survivors of "gun violence" trotted out to talk about gun control. The worse the incident, the higher profile these newly minted activists can attain. Look at David Hogg, for example. He just went to the high school and he was able to pivot that into an admission to Harvard after being rejected by state colleges.


Yet the truth is that it's not that cut-and-dried. Some people who are touched by such violence become gun control advocates and some retain some degree of rationality.

Take Lewiston, for example. It's the unfortunate example most recent in our minds of a mass murder committed with a firearm.

Survivors of that shooting aren't exactly tripping over themselves to go one way or the other.

Ben Dyer hasn't decided how he'll vote in one of the nation's most closely watched congressional elections this year, but he knows guns will be on his mind when he casts his ballot. And he's pretty sure he won't be the only one.

Dyer, a 47-year-old father of two, was shot five times at Schemengees Bar & Grille in Lewiston last October during the deadliest mass shooting in Maine history. He was rushed to a hospital in a game warden’s pickup truck. He still can't use his right arm.

In the aftermath of a blood-soaked tragedy in which 18 people were killed and many more were wounded at two separate crime scenes, Dyer has watched his state enact a battery of new gun control laws. It is against that backdrop that he and other voters in Maine’s 2nd Congressional District will consider the political future of three-term Congressman Jared Golden.


That is, of course, a valid point. There are millions of AR-15s in private hands right now. A tiny fraction of a percent has been used to hurt any innocent person, making them not unlikely literally every other firearm type out there.

Golden supported gun rights for years. He didn't blink when Parkland happened. He didn't blink when Uvalde happened. He didn't change anything until he happened in Maine, at which point suddenly, he saw a problem? No, I'm not buying it.

No, what happened is that Golden figured that Maine, a pretty blue state that had a strong likelihood of embracing California-style gun control after something like Lewiston, was going to go that direction and figured he needed to flip in order to keep his job.

That's it.

Especially when you've got an activist in your ear talking about how you need to change.

Golden's willingness to rethink his position was encouraging to Tammy Asselin, who survived the shooting at a bowling alley in Lewiston with her daughter Toni. She knows it was hard, but said she was “impressed at (Golden’s) strength and willingness to change his stance so quickly in the face of many resistors.”

Asselin supports an assault weapons ban unequivocally.

“There’s no need for such high-powered weapons to be in the hands of anyone except our military and first responders,” she said. “People claim it's their right to carry, and I’m not opposed to that right, but there’s absolutely no reason on this Earth they can give that gives a reasonable reason for possessing these high-powered weapons.”


Sure there are. Asselin just doesn't want to accept them.

Look, when the military and police are the only ones with these kinds of weapons, leaving us nothing beyond what might be good for a deer stand but nowhere else, then we have no resistance against a tyrannical government.

I'm going to guess that Asselin isn't a fan of someone like Donald Trump. She probably refers to him as a tyrant, as a madman, as someone who will round up the gays and the Hispanics and herd them into camps.

If you actually believe that, why would you want such a person to have a monopoly on the use of force? Why would you want to be without the means to resist such a government?

So yeah, there's a reasonable reason for possessing these weapons. She just doesn't want to accept that.

Which is her prerogative. 

Where I have the problem is that she's trying to deny me the right to own them because she, personally, doesn't approve of them and she's the bug in the ear of a legislator who has flipped. She has the right to try and persuade Golden, of course, but he should have held firm.

Now, no one should trust him.


Because if all it takes is political expedience pushed by someone who doesn't even understand the issue fully to sway him, then what else will he sell his constituents out on?

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