Lewiston Was the Result of Law Enforcement Errors, Not ‘Lax’ Gun Laws

Androscoggin County Sheriff's Office via AP

The Lewiston shooting has completely rattled the state of Maine. While a blue state, they have a long history of showing at least some respect for the right to keep and bear arms. They’re pretty pro-gun up that way, all things considered. Not perfectly so, but far more than most states in New England.

But Lewiston threatens to change that. Once again, a maniac does something and lawmakers immediately turn to consider gun bans and further restrictions, all in the supposed name of safety.

Yet it seems that Lewiston, like so many other mass shootings, isn’t a case of gun control failing but of something else failing entirely.

Though the Maine mass shooter was “solely responsible for his own conduct” when he took the lives of 18 people and injured 13 more, it was the responsibility of law enforcement officials who were already aware of his mental decline to intervene, and on multiple occasions, they failed in their duty, an independent commission tasked with investigating what led up to shooting has found.
The initial interim report released Friday said there were “several” missed opportunities to take action that “may have changed the course of events,” and could have potentially prevented lives from being lost. 

The independent commission found that local police had “sufficient probable cause” to take Card into custody under Maine’s Yellow Flag law and remove his guns. Yet, the commission found officials who were aware of [the killer’s] decline didn’t follow up on those concerns.
Some of the findings are in direct disagreement with previous findings released by local police about their actions leading up to the shooting.
The commission says they received over a terabyte of electronic records from the Maine State Police, as well as additional records, transcripts, videos, photographs and other materials from multiple local, county, and federal law enforcement agencies and emergency communication centers, the U.S. Army, the Maine Criminal Justice Academy, prosecuting attorneys, medical facilities and various local and state government officials. That is in addition to the series of public hearings that have been held for various agencies to come testify.
Their final report is expected in the coming months.

Now, hindsight is 20/20 and all that, but the fact that these findings seem to contradict what law enforcement claimed in the aftermath is troubling. I’m willing to accept that they didn’t think it would get to something like this, but it seems like they actually had reason to think it would.

That’s a problem.

It’s a big problem especially because their reported failures are being used to justify still more restrictions on people’s right to keep and bear arms. While I’m not interested in those restrictions under any circumstances, it’s a lot easier to accept where people are coming from when the system in place allowed something to happen. I may not agree with it, but I can at least understand where people are coming from.

It’s quite another thing entirely to expect people to forfeit their rights in the name of safety when it’s a government agency that screwed the pooch.

Maine clearly doesn’t need new gun control laws. What it needs is for law enforcement agencies to take this sort of thing seriously. I may not like the tools currently available, but when you’re not using them, don’t ask for more.

Once again, it looks like a dreadful mass murder is the result of a combination of a maniacal jackwagon and law enforcement not doing their job.


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