I am deeply disappointed (although not surprised) by the weak response of Gov. Janet Mills to the tragic and horrifying mass shooting in Lewiston. The worst mass murder in the state’s history, committed by a mentally ill man with legally obtained weapons of war, and the governor’s response is to waffle, bristle at tough questions and … form a commission.

Let’s compare our governor’s response with that of another leader in a similar situation: Jacinda Ardern, former prime minister of New Zealand. On March 15, 2019, a gunman attacked two mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand, killing 55 people and injuring 40. Like Maine, New Zealand was considered a safe place with low levels of gun violence, despite allowing the ownership of military-style semi-automatic rifles.

On the day of the attack, Ardern announced the country’s gun laws would change. On March 21, 2019, she announced a ban on semi-automatic weapons. By April 10, less than a month after the shootings, the New Zealand Parliament had passed the Arms (Prohibited Firearms, Magazines, and Parts) Amendment Act of 2019 that banned semi-automatic firearms, large capacity magazines and parts that can be used to assemble prohibited firearms.

Gov. Mills is not alone in her weak reaction to this tragedy. I am equally disappointed in the feeble and calculated statements from U.S. Sens. King and Collins. If we are ever to shake our addiction to guns and make ourselves and our children safer, it will take more than just strong leaders who believe we don’t have to bear the cost of unfettered gun ownership.

But it would be a start.

John Gold

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