A provocative report in Reason about the Maine mass shooting offers a strong argument that it wasn’t the state’s alleged “weak gun laws” which allowed the now-deceased killer to commit mayhem at two separate locations one week ago, but what might be called a failure of the system to respond to warning signs months ago.
The report, by Reason Senior Editor Jacob Sullum, reveals an all-too-familiar post-tragedy pattern which saw family concerns raised earlier this year about the gunman’s “increasingly paranoid” behavior. He allegedly complained that “people were describing him as a pedophile.” He spent two weeks at Keller Army Community Hospital and underwent a psychiatric evaluation. He reported “told a friend” he was planning a shooting at an Army drill center in Saco, Maine.
After the hospital stay, Sullum writes, “he apparently did not meet the state’s criteria for involuntary commitment.”
Maine has had a “yellow flag” law since 2019, which does allow police to take someone into protective custody if there is probable cause to believe the individual poses a threat to himself/herself or others. Police can seek a court order, Sullum explains, temporarily prohibiting the individual from possessing or obtaining firearms.
Rather than feed the hunger for more gun control laws, a new Rasmussen survey reveals a majority of voters say enforcement of existing laws would be more effective in preventing gun-related violence than passing new legislation. Rasmussen conducted the survey Oct. 26 and 29-30 among 1,020 likely voters, which was after the Maine mayhem.
According to Rasmussen, 57 percent of likely American voters say stricter enforcement of current laws would do more to reduce gun-related violence, while 44 percent overall believe new laws are needed. But the division widens the further one digs into the survey results.
A whopping 71 percent of Republicans and 58 percent of Independent voters say enforcing existing laws will do more while 43 percent of Democrats agree. On the other hand, 49 percent of Democrats want more gun laws, while only 16 percent of Republicans and 22 percent of Independents think new laws will help reduce violence.
The survey quickly caught the attention of the Citizens Committee for the Right to Keep and Bear Arms. In a prepared statement, CCRKBA Chairman Alan Gottlieb noted, “We’ve maintained for decades that if existing gun laws were enforced, we wouldn’t need a constant stream of new laws, with additional restrictions on law-abiding citizens, which have really not prevented such events, as gun control proponents invariably promise when they push their latest schemes.”
Almost immediately after the shooting in Lewiston, Maine, anti-gunners including President Joe Biden started clamoring for additional gun controls. Rasmussen’s survey results suggests he is out of sync with a majority of voters.
As reported by Rasmussen, “Forty-four percent (44%) of Democrats think it is possible to completely prevent mass shootings, but that opinion is shared by only 21% of Republicans and 19% of voters not affiliated with either major party. Sixty-six percent (66%) of Republicans, 41% of Democrats and 63% of unaffiliated voters say it is not possible to completely prevent mass shootings like the recent one in Maine.”
Gottlieb said this is “further evidence of a fundamental partisan disconnect.”
“Passing a new, feel-good law only creates the illusion something has been done,” he said. “In reality, such knee-jerk legislation accomplishes nothing and sets the public up for more horror when another incident occurs, after which anti-gun politicians repeat the process, fooling their constituents all over again while steadily eroding the Second Amendment and perpetuating a problem they know their policies can’t solve.”
In his report, Reason’s Sullum observed, “One thing is clear: Casting a wider net inevitably means that more people will be deprived of their constitutional rights even when they do not actually pose a threat to public safety. That is true not only of “red flag” laws but also of the federal ban on gun possession by people who have been involuntarily committed to psychiatric institutions, which applies no matter how long ago that happened and regardless of whether they were ever deemed a threat to others.”
A version of this report also appeared in TheGunMag.com