Increasing gun safety in Maine

By Rep. Vicki Doudera | Apr 01, 2021
Rep. Vicki Douders

Incidents of gun violence, such as the mass shootings that killed 18 people this past week in Colorado and Georgia, horrify all Americans, no matter where we live. Here in Maine we feel a range of emotions — profound sadness for the families, anger over the loss of lives, and frustration regarding federal gun control measures — but we may be tempted to console ourselves by thinking that gun violence just isn’t a problem in our state.

The numbers, however, tell a different story.

Gun deaths in Maine increased 45% from 2010 to 2019, a vastly higher rate than the 17% increase nationwide during the same time period. (1)

In 2019, Maine’s firearm mortality rate as a percentage of its population was higher than every other New England state. (2)

In Maine, the rate of gun suicide increased 50% from 2010 to 2019, compared to a 13% increase nationwide. (3)

Young Mainers with access to guns are particularly at risk. Youth suicides are unique in that they are often impulsive acts, and nine out of 10 young people who survive a suicide at-tempt go on to live healthy and productive lives. (4) But factor in a firearm and the survival rate plummets because suicide by gun is nearly always fatal. (5)

Unfortunately, it is far too easy for a child or teen to access a gun in our state. It is estimated that almost half of all Maine homes have at least one firearm (6), and those numbers have risen since the start of the pandemic. (7) According to FBI data on background checks, 70,244 Mainers tried to purchase firearms between March and August of 2020, an increase of 69% from 2019. (8) And those are only the sales we know about: Maine law does not require background checks for transactions that take place at gun shows or through advertised sales, even though the parties may be complete strangers.

Many of us in state government see the trends in gun suicide and other forms of gun violence as alarming, enough so that we have formed a legislative Gun Safety Caucus to work together on common-sense, life-saving measures. We have begun efforts to educate our colleagues and the public about policies that will address Maine’s gun-related crises, from firearm-involved suicides, to the recent spate of children shot and injured by unsecured firearms, to the ongoing tragedy of domestic violence firearm-involved homicides.

Gun safety can be a bipartisan issue. Last session we worked across the aisle to pass a bill restricting access to dangerous weapons (L.D. 1811) nearly unanimously. With that legislation as a start, we can continue to find common ground using sensible solutions, and still respect responsible gun ownership in our state. We can take measures such as making sure loaded guns are secured in homes where children are present; preventing the purchase of 3D-printed firearms and untraceable “kit guns” and expanding background checks for firearm sales between strangers at gun shows. These are proven strategies that save lives, and recent polls indicated that the vast majority of Mainers support this approach. (9)

As the numbers unfortunately show, gun violence is not an issue that we can dismiss just because we live in Maine. The Legislature’s Gun Safety Caucus is committed to working with each other and with Gov. Janet Mills to give voice to the majority of Mainers who support gun safety measures that keep our kids, veterans, and communities safe while honoring our state’s tradition of firearm ownership.

1 https://maps.everytownresearch.org/everystat/#Maine

2 https://www.cdc.gov/nchs/pressroom/sosmap/firearm_mortality/firearm.htm

3 https://maps.everytownresearch.org/everystat/#Maine

4 https://www.hsph.harvard.edu/means-matter/means-matter/survival/

5 https://www.hsph.harvard.edu/means-matter/means-matter/case-fatality/

6 https://www.cbsnews.com/pictures/gun-ownership-rates-by-state/30/

7 https://www.fbi.gov/file-repository/nics_firearm_checks_-_month_year_by_state.pdf/view

8 https://www.fbi.gov/file-repository/nics_firearm_checks_-_month_year_by_state.pdf/view

9 https://everytown.org/press/new-polling-81-percent-of-maine-voters-support-life-saving-red-flag-legislation/

http://www.mainegunsafety.org/news/2019/4/7/new-poll-shows-broad-biparti-san-support-for-red-flag-laws-and-universal-background-checks-in-maine

Rep. Vicki Doudera represents District 94: Camden, Islesboro and Rockport

 

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Comments (2)
Posted by: Edward Doudera | Apr 05, 2021 13:40

Hi Patti,  This is Rep Doudera and I thank you for your questions.    Our gun deaths increased by 45% from what they had been previously.  Same with the rate of gun suicide -- while nationally the rate of increase was 13%, here in Maine our rate of increase was 50%. So our rates of gun violence in Maine are rising faster than those rates are rising nationally.



Posted by: Patti Moran | Apr 01, 2021 10:33

I am having trouble reading these two sentences -

Gun deaths in Maine increased 45% from 2010 to 2019, a vastly higher rate than the 17% increase nationwide during the same time period. (1)

**did our gun deaths increase by 45% from what it had been.. or increase to 45%?

In Maine, the rate of gun suicide increased 50% from 2010 to 2019, compared to a 13% increase nationwide. (3)

**increase to 50% from something else or increased by 50% ..??



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