To hear the supporters of Question 3 — Michael Bloomberg’s attempt to impose nanny-state universal background checks — tell it, you’d be forgiven to think that Maine is an anarchic backwater with gunfights on every corner and bullets whizzing past innocent bystanders. This is hardly the truth, of course. Indeed, far from being a state awash in crime, Maine is one of the least violent states in the nation. Even with the recent opioid epidemic that has swept Maine, violent crime has not been skyrocketing. This isn’t just true in Maine, but nationwide — violent crime has been dropping like a rock across this country over the past two decades. There were over 7,000 fewer homicides in 2014 than in 1995.
Of course, this story isn’t one that helps advance the cause of those pushing for more gun control, so they conveniently ignore it, both in Maine and all over the country. Instead they focus on mass shootings, which they portray as increasing significantly. Even if one accepts that — which is debatable, as it’s not a category that’s frequently defined by nonpartisan sources — it’s telling that the homicide rate has continued to decline in spite of it. It’s also telling that gun control advocates using their own definition of the term mass shooting can only find one incident in Maine ever.
Maine not only has lower-than-average gun violence, but several states with higher gun violence rates have lower gun ownership rates. So, gun control advocates are staging a referendum on the issue in a state without much violent crime and which is a living, breathing counter-argument to their claim that higher gun ownership rates lead to more gun deaths. Clearly, this referendum is not about making Maine a safer place.
Indeed, they themselves admit this every time they bring up gun trafficking — the idea that guns bought in Maine are transported outside of the state and used in crimes elsewhere. They’re essentially conceding that their primary goal isn’t to make the life of Mainers better, but to use our state as a scapegoat for problems elsewhere. This isn’t about what happens here, but about a supposed problem all over the country that they somehow expect to solve by taking away our rights.
Just as corrupt dictators the world over like to paint America as the cause of their country’s problems, do-nothing liberal politicians all over America like to blame conservative states for their problems. After all, you don’t see Michael Bloomberg spending his money to fix Maine’s schools, help with the drug crisis, or to repair our roads. Instead, he’s spending it to convince Mainers that they’re the problem, that our bipartisan tradition of respecting gun rights — expressed recently with the overwhelming passage of constitutional carry in the state Legislature — is worthless. He’s proposing a radical, partisan solution to a problem this state doesn’t have, showing that he doesn’t care at all about Maine or the people who live here.
It’s not just gun rights that are at stake with this referendum, though: it’s our capacity to self-govern. If we let a New York billionaire buy restrictions on our right to bear arms, what next? As a nation, we’ve already sacrificed too many liberties in the name of security to reasonably expect either. Mainers shouldn’t be willing to sacrifice any more of our liberties in the name of our own security, let alone to possibly, slightly increase the security of other people who are already pretty secure. This fall, vote to preserve the freedom and liberty of you and your fellow Mainers, rather than sacrificing them on the altar of vague promises from an out-of-state billionaire trying to buy your vote.
*This article originally appeared in the BDN.