Republican U.S. Sen. Susan Collins is not going to vote for any sort of meaningful gun-control legislation.

Not now. Not ever.

The reason is simple: Collins is totally owned by a rich guy who makes guns for a living. His name is Richard Dyke, and he’s spent a lot of money over the decades supporting Collins’ political endeavors, reviving her career when it faltered and making sure he has a pawn in place to see that the weapons he manufactures remain legal.

As a result, the most extreme position Collins will ever take in response to the recent rash of mass shootings is when she told Politico in August that Congress and the president had to do “something” about all that killing.

Does that “something” include closing the loophole that allows criminals to buy guns at shows and in private sales without undergoing a background check? Any chance it involves strict limits on high-capacity magazines? How about a ban on the sort of semiautomatic firearms favored by those intent on slaughtering innocent bystanders?

No, no and no.

Collins met Dyke years ago, when she worked as a Senate staffer, and she must have impressed the guy. He made a handsome donation to her unsuccessful 1994 bid for governor, even though she was given little chance of winning. Immediately thereafter, he established the Richard E. Dyke Center for Family Business at Husson University in Bangor. The center’s first director was a down-on-her-luck politician named Susan Collins. When that same Collins ran successfully for the Senate in 1996, Dyke and his family and friends were among her biggest contributors because, according to a posting on Daily Kos by Joan McCarter, he liked Collins’ “pro-gun stands – including her support for overturning the ban on certain assault weapons.”

And why did Dyke want that?

Perhaps because at the time, he owned Bushmaster Firearms in Windham, a company that made semiautomatic firearms (the same kind that was later used in multiple sniper murders in Washington, D.C.), and Dyke would have liked to get into the business of selling fully automatic weapons, too. Maine Times once described Dyke as “Gun dealer to the world,” noting that he shipped weapons everywhere from “Sri Lanka to Syria,” although Dyke was quick to note that he couldn’t legally market firearms to individuals overseas, just to repressive governments. After 30 years of doing that, he sold the company, which was turning out 9,000 guns a month, to a private equity firm for a cool $76 million (he had paid just $241,000 for it back in 1976).

That left him with lots of extra cash to purchase politicians.

In 2011, Dyke decided he missed making guns and started Windham Weaponry to produce his own brand of semiautomatics. Naturally, Collins attended the grand opening and contributed a gushing mess to Dyke’s self-published (and ever-so-humble) biography, “Richard E. Dyke: Just a Man from Wilton, Maine.”

“Dick’s personal story is so heartwarming,” Collins is quoted as saying. “Through sheer determination, smarts and hard work, he has made an extraordinary life. I so admire that! He didn’t come from family advantages, but did it the old fashioned way. He has been enormously successful but has never forgotten his roots.

“And that’s the heart of Dick Dyke. A heart for Maine.”

As far as Collins is concerned, supporting serious gun control legislation would be like putting a bullet through that sweet Maine heart.

Not to mention that fat Maine wallet.

 

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