Following a mass shooting in Lewiston, Maine, that resulted in the loss of at least 18 lives and left 13 injured, there are growing calls for action on gun violence in the state. Michael Rocque, an associate sociology professor at Bates College, highlighted that Maine has historically had low rates of gun violence, but this should not deter efforts to combat the issue. Rocque emphasized that mass shootings can occur in any location, not just areas with high rates of gun violence. Maine has a high rate of gun ownership and relatively lenient gun laws.
Rocque suggested that several factors may have contributed to Maine’s historically low gun violence rates. The state has an older population, and older individuals are less likely to be involved in mass shootings. Additionally, guns in Maine are primarily used for hunting rather than self-defense or criminal activities. Rocque emphasized the need for immediate improvements to “warning flag” laws, which identify individuals who may pose a threat to their community. He also advocated for measures such as banning large capacity magazines, including those used in AR-15 rifles, which have been linked to mass shootings.
Rocque acknowledged that the aftermath of mass shootings can be complicated by a perceived divide between “gun supporters” and those advocating for stricter gun control. He urged for a focus on commonalities and the need to prioritize public safety. Maine Representative Jared Golden recently reversed his stance on assault weapons and called for an assault weapons ban following the shooting.
While Maine has generally been safe in terms of gun violence rates, this tragic event has prompted a reevaluation of the state’s gun laws and the need for proactive measures to prevent future incidents.