Viewpoint: We get what we VOTE for 

By Richard Baldarelli 

I am sick and tired of lawmakers’ outrage at yet another mass shooting. Their positions run out of rage well before anything gets done legislatively to stop the carnage.  

Perhaps most frustrating is an inability to stop the insanity of unrestricted civilian access to assault-style weapons. Sure, assault-style rifles like the AR-15 are not military grade, but come on, with a muzzle velocity of 3,300 feet per second and high-capacity magazines holding up to 100 rounds, these weapons are designed for one thing: efficient delivery of lethal force.  

Since these weapons aren’t used by the military, what do you think their intended targets are – deer? No, the intended targets of these weapons are what we shudder to hear about from every single mass shooting: civilians – the precious lives of human beings. Yet it is “perfectly” legal for anyone over the age of 17 to own an assault-style rifle, when purchased from a private, unlicensed dealer, or over the age of 20, when purchased from a licensed dealer. This is perfectly absurd. 

I am equally sick and tired of people blaming the gun violence in this country on our elected officials. WE THE PEOPLE vote them into office! The gun-related voting records of Maine’s Congress members are perfectly revealing here.  

From their voting records, Sen. King and Rep. Pingree have clearly done their best to pass (and sponsor) sensible gun laws. Rep. Pingree even cosponsored the Assault Weapons Ban of 2021, to be considered in the current congressional term. Those of us who long for sensible gun regulation thank you both.  

It’s quite a different roll call for Sen. Collins and Rep. Golden. With the exception of a few gun lock amendments, Sen. Collins has voted against essentially every bill to shepherd firearm access and voted for every bill to relax restraint on firearm access and to protect gun manufacturers from responsibility for the “side effects” of their products. Rep. Golden’s voting record on guns is iffy at best. While he voted against Constitutional Carry legislation and voted for the Violence Against Women Reauthorization act, which includes a provision to restrict gun access to convicted stalkers, Rep. Golden has voted against every enhanced background check act in Congress and has cosponsored a bill for concealed carry without a permit. 

We are all sick to death of the senseless killing; in schools, in places of worship, in nightclubs, in movie theaters, in supermarkets, in department stores, in … America. 

While the rampant violence in this country is a separate issue that needs to be addressed, when we arm that violence with assault-style rifles, guess what we get? MASS SHOOTINGS. We can’t expect change if we keep voting in legislators who keep doing nothing to stop furnishing the violence with high-velocity, high-capacity firearms.  

We should all urge our senators and representatives to vote for the Assault Weapons Ban of 2021 (Senate bill S.736 and House bill H.R.1808, respectively), even though there’s a predicted 2 percent chance that this ban will be enacted.  

We got what we voted for. 


Richard Baldarelli lives in Bar Harbor. 


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