By voting down a handful of simple, unimposing gun control proposals earlier this year, state lawmakers failed Mainers.

Come Jan. 3, the same lawmakers have an opportunity to pass emergency legislation that would – at minimum – right the shameful oversights of the first legislative session. The outpouring of public support for action on guns should mean the writing is on the wall; our elected representatives need to realize they have no choice now but to correct them.

Early reports on the antsy work arising from the mass shootings in Lewiston on Oct. 25 heralds a mixed bag of bills in development.

This forthcoming wave of proposals will undoubtedly contain some duds. A suggestion (by Republican Sen. Eric Brakey) that the state issue a commemorative license plate is a good example of the type of “thoughts and prayers” reflex that we could all do without.

It appears there will be a host of proposals to improve mental health care and a few related to victim support. These are necessary areas of focus. The legislating that most urgently needs to be done, however, and which we know to be the most contentious, must focus on preventing shootings rather than trying to repair their devastating aftermath.

Although high-profile leaders like U.S. Rep. Jared Golden and state Senate President Troy Jackson have been vocal about reconsidering their opposition to conditions on gun ownership after the Lewiston shootings, we know better than to think this will be either widely representative or persuasive enough to bring staunch gun control opponents around.


According to this newspaper’s reporting, early versions of bills “set the stage for what could be a historic debate over gun legislation in the coming session.”

That the negotiations will be historic is not in doubt – the reverberations of Maine’s worst mass shooting are going to be keenly felt for a long time.

That there is a guarantee of more debate on some of these simple, basic ideas, however – ideas that enjoy robust and growing public support, the likes of which even the most popular elected representative could only dream of  – continues to be profoundly disappointing.

After Lewiston, it stings uniquely. How do we reconcile this resistance with the depth of the statewide horror, heartbreak and outrage?

Two months before Lewiston, this editorial board published an impatient position on the sorry outcome of gun control laws in Maine in the last session (“Our View: We have not nearly earned the right to quibble about gun control,” Sept. 7).

And yet, even having been through what Maine has now been through, impressionable lawmakers all around our state are already preparing to engage in more dishonest, paranoid arguments against the most basic and inoffensive restrictions. Every time they dare to do this, and they are now very good at it, they put warped thinking and commercial interests before the safety and security of their constituents.


Instituting an effective system of background checks on private gun sales and waiting periods, and banning “rapid-fire” augmentation devices that make the average gun more like an automatic weapon, the three most obvious and galling examples of measures untouched, would result in only negligible changes to a prospective gun owner’s buying experience.

That’s without getting into addressing the shortcomings of the “yellow flag” law or advancing the strong case for a “red flag” law and the even stronger case for an assault weapons ban, prospective regulations that have been loudly called for since Oct. 25.

The Giffords Law Center (founded by Rep. Gabby Giffords after she survived a shooting in 2011) gives Maine an “F” grade for gun safety, along with 24 other states. There’s absolutely no reason we should still be part of this pitiful group.

Widespread and increasingly fervent public support for standards on the procurement and ownership of guns isn’t reflected in the statutes. Until it is, guns come before people, which should be mortifying to everybody.

Lawmakers in Augusta owe it to Mainers to free themselves from the selfish philosophical manipulations of the gun lobby and the rampant disrespect for the public that lobby insists on. Can they do that? We’re waiting impatiently to find out.

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