Washington, D.C. — Following the news of a mass shooting in Maine, Nick Wilson, senior director of Gun Violence Prevention at the Center for American Progress and former executive director of the Maine Gun Safety Coalition, issued the following statement:
The horrific news of senseless gun violence in Maine should anger every American. It hits especially close to home for me as the former executive director of the Maine Gun Safety Coalition. I stood shoulder to shoulder with students, parents, doctors, religious leaders, domestic violence advocates, and law enforcement professionals to advocate for basic gun violence laws such as background checks and extreme risk protection orders to keep Mainers safe. However, these foundational gun laws were repeatedly blocked by politicians too scared to stand up to a vocal minority funded by the corporate gun lobby who would show up at nonpartisan gun safety rallies armed in “Guns Save Lives” T-shirts. Politicians would gaslight voters by saying there was no gun violence problem in Maine, despite Maine’s firearm suicide rate being four times higher than nearby states and having an appallingly high rate of fatal domestic violence shootings. It is sadly not a surprise to me that such an unconscionable act was committed with an assault rifle; I once named a dozen small manufacturers of AR-15-style rifles in Maine who could sell a weapon of war in a Walmart parking lot, with no background checks or questions asked.
Nothing can be said or done to undo the harm inflicted on the families and tightly knit community of Lewiston today. They will be forever changed by our country’s refusal to enact commonsense gun safety policies. However, I do find some comfort in knowing that Maine State Police Commissioner Michael Sauschuck will ensure that the shooter is held accountable. As a devoted public servant fighting for public safety and former board member of Maine Gun Safety Coalition, I’m grateful he’s leading Maine’s law enforcement efforts after this tragedy. However, we can’t rely solely on law enforcement to keep our communities safe. We must demand that state and federal policymakers provide gun violence survivors and victim families with the resources they need to heal and thrive, not only in the immediate aftermath of this unimaginable tragedy, but in the months and years to come as survivors deal with the long-term impacts of gun violence. It’s time for leaders in Augusta and Washington, D.C., to pass basic gun laws and invest in the root causes of gun violence. Until that happens, no community is safe from these unimaginable acts of gun violence.
For more information or to speak with an expert, please contact Julia Cusick at email@example.com.