Gun store owners in Maine have reported a significant increase in sales following the recent mass shootings at a bowling alley and restaurant in Lewiston. Army reservist Robert Card allegedly carried out the shootings, resulting in the deaths of 18 people and injuries to 13 others. A manhunt was launched to find Card, who was later apprehended. Despite shelter-in-place orders, gun store owners in Lewiston, such as Ryan Gagnon of 3 Cousins Firearms, experienced a surge in customers, with sales reportedly up over 200 percent compared to a typical Friday. Another gun store owner, Tony Lewis of T and K Tactical in Augusta, also reported a significant increase in sales. The spike in gun sales is attributed to concerns about personal safety and the need for self-defense in the wake of the mass shootings.
According to Pew Research statistics from 2022, 47 percent of Maine residents are registered gun owners. Additionally, a November 2022 Gallup poll revealed that 45 percent of U.S. households owned one or more firearms in 2022. Maine has relatively low firearm fatalities compared to other states, with 154 and 178 gun-related deaths recorded in 2020 and 2021, respectively. Everytown for Gun Safety Support Fund, an organization focused on reducing gun violence, ranks Maine as 25th in the country for gun law strength and highlights the state’s lack of basic laws. The recent shootings have prompted renewed scrutiny of state gun legislation, including Maine’s Yellow Flag law aimed at preventing mass shootings.
Republican Sen. Susan Collins, who represents Maine, has faced criticism for her voting record on gun control. In 2013, Collins voted against two amendments that sought to ban the sale of assault weapons and limit firearm magazine capacity. However, she did vote in favor of the 2022 Bipartisan Safer Communities Act, the first federal firearms legislation in three decades. Collins defended Maine’s law, which includes robust due process provisions allowing courts to temporarily restrict firearm possession for individuals deemed a serious threat to themselves or others.
The increase in gun sales and the ongoing debate surrounding gun laws in Maine highlight the complex issue of gun ownership and regulation in the United States.