Pressure Building to Pass Gun Control in Maine – Bearing Arms

Pressure Building to Pass Gun Control in Maine – Bearing Arms

In the wake of Lewiston, we all knew there would be a push for gun control. While Maine is a fairly pro-gun state, all things considered, it’s also heavily Democrat. A pro-gun blue state can absolutely exist, obviously, but one has to think it exists on a knife’s edge, with one small nudge being sufficient to send it over.

And Lewiston was one hell of a nudge.

So far, Gov. Janet Mills has resisted most of the calls for extensive gun control. She’s made her own anti-gun proposals, but they’re not as bad as they could have been.

However, the pressure to pass something is starting to build.

Supporters of potentially historic gun law reforms packed the State House last week, evidence of strong momentum for change more than four months after the deadliest mass shooting in Maine history.

But defenders of traditional gun rights also made their voices heard during a series of crowded legislative hearings, vowing to once again fend off efforts to restrict their Second Amendment rights.

The Lewiston mass shooting in October inspired a slate of proposals that had been considered and rejected in recent years, including mandatory background checks for private gun sales and a 72-hour waiting period for firearm purchases.

One bill would make it easier for police to use the state’s so-called yellow flag law to seize weapons from someone who poses a threat, while a new proposal submitted last week would replace it with a red flag law to make seizures even easier.

While it’s unclear exactly how much could change, some political observers and lawmakers say the mass shooting may have prompted a shift in support of changes to gun laws and make it easier for the proposals to pass. The shift is evident even in the level of public debate since the tragedy.

“I think the big change is people are talking about, how do we deal with these things? How does the yellow flag law work? Where are places it could be changed?” said Jim Melcher, a professor of political science at the University of Maine at Farmington. “Before the Lewiston shooting, I don’t think this would have been on the agenda much at all.”

Well, obviously. People may not have been thrilled with the measure, but it also hadn’t failed spectacularly, either.

But we also need to understand that Maine isn’t exactly unique here. 

After any mass murder, there’s bound to be a significant push to pass laws. Yet crowds at the legislature don’t actually mean there’s broad support–that’s true for either side, if we’re being honest–it just means folks have rallied to make a good show of things.

The truth is that most of the measures being pushed right here and now in Maine have nothing at all to do with Lewiston. They’re just things anti-gunners there have wanted to pass for years and just haven’t had a way to make it happen.

They’re not pushing to prevent another Lewiston, they’re just using Lewiston as a pretext for all the gun control laws they wanted.

In that regard, it’s not that different from every other mass murder we’ve covered over the years. It’s never about the crime but about what they can get out of the crime.

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