LEWISTON, Maine — Gun violence was in a roundabout way on the poll in Tuesday’s election, however Lewiston voters shared ideas on what lawmakers ought to do about it practically two weeks after Maine’s deadliest-ever mass taking pictures.
Voters on the polls mirrored state and nationwide debates about weapons and psychological well being. However there have been a couple of stunning diversions from the everyday get together strains when Bangor Day by day Information reporters spoke with greater than two dozen residents at Lewiston and Auburn polling websites Tuesday to vote on state referendums and a big slate of native races.
The dual cities separated by the Androscoggin River have collectively grieved since a gunman killed 18 individuals and injured 13 at a Lewiston bowling alley and bar on Oct. 25 earlier than being discovered useless two days later of a self-inflicted gunshot wound. It was the nation’s deadliest mass taking pictures in 2023 and the Tenth-deadliest one on file.
Voter sentiment lined every little thing from banning assault-style weapons just like the one utilized by the gunman to implementing legal guidelines aimed toward conserving weapons out of the palms of individuals exhibiting warning indicators, bolstering psychological well being care or ramping up Maine’s “yellow flag” statute.
Tyler MacNeil, 27, a Lewiston resident who works for an promoting agency, stated whereas he thinks pistols and searching rifles are fantastic, legislators ought to ban assault-style weapons and high-capacity magazines. 5 voters agreed on banning semi-automatic rifles modeled after the Colt AR-15. A federal assault-style weapons ban expired in 2004 after taking impact in 1994.
“It’s so much simpler to purchase an assault rifle than it’s to get a physician’s appointment,” Auburn resident David Haines, 81, stated, though he doesn’t suppose policymakers will change issues.
Again in Lewiston, Phillip Pendexter, 21, stated he would love extra individuals to train their Second Modification rights to defend themselves in mass shootings. He repeated a well-liked line amongst gun-rights advocates: “Weapons aren’t killing individuals. Individuals are killing individuals.”
However 74-year-old Yvette Mercier stated individuals with any signal of psychological instability mustn’t have entry to weapons. She stated mass shootings will maintain taking place if lawmakers don’t act, but she feels they solely care about themselves.
Lewiston Metropolis Councilor Larry Pease, who didn’t search reelection Tuesday, stated he thinks individuals in Maine typically shouldn’t have anyplace protected to go if they’re violent and struggling mentally. Whereas Pease and his spouse, Caroline, voted for mayoral candidate Jon Connor, a former Republican state lawmaker, Caroline Pease stated weapons must be taken off the market.
Rachel Dixon, a 56-year-old Lewiston resident who works at TD Financial institution, stated households should take possession to help struggling members. Dixon stated she has a daughter with a schizoaffective dysfunction who needed to go to California for therapy as a result of Maine not having sufficient beds.
Whereas quite a few voters largely agreed on a necessity to enhance the psychological well being care system, they have been cut up over whether or not Maine’s current yellow flag legislation is enough or if a stronger “crimson flag” legislation is required.
Crimson-flag legal guidelines enable police and household to petition courts to confiscate weapons from individuals deemed harmful, whereas Maine’s less-stringent yellow flag measure requires a medical skilled to additionally deem the individual a menace. Consultants largely agree the yellow flag legislation ought to have been triggered within the case of the Lewiston gunman, Robert Card II, given the Military reservist’s warning indicators within the months resulting in the taking pictures.
Lawmakers have disagreed on the necessity to change the yellow flag legislation that Gov. Janet Mills and the gun-rights Sportsman’s Alliance of Maine labored to move in 2019, with police chiefs who’ve relied on it saying it really works.
“That man shouldn’t have had weapons,” April Shanaman, 51, who owns Auburn’s Misplaced Valley ski space, stated whereas including she helps the fitting to personal firearms.
The mass taking pictures personally affected many within the tight-knit twin cities. Anne Carro, 70, a retired nurse from Lewiston, stated her nephew survived getting shot through the rampage and lamented how police have been conscious Card was paranoid and had entry to firearms.
“Simply terrible,” Carro stated.