It’s been a while, but I haven’t seen any gunfights in the streets of Maine or New Hampshire the past few years, and I live very near the border between the two. That’s what progressives predicted would occur if gun laws loosened and people didn’t have to get permits to carry concealed guns. I haven’t seen any newspaper articles or television reports about increased gun violence, either, after each state passed legislation eliminating concealed carry permits. It’s been three years in New Hampshire and more than four years in Maine, so were the progressives wrong when they predicted both states would turn into the wild, wild west?
Police chiefs in both states were also against the new laws, claiming their officers would be at risk. What do they say now? Nothing. Vermont never required concealed carry permits, and it’s always been one of the safest states in the country. That fact was ignored by progressive gun control advocates when they argued against New Hampshire and Maine revisions of concealed carry permits to copy Vermont.
Many people in the three northern New England states still leave their doors unlocked, and crime rates remain very low. Is that because guns here are as common as unlocked doors? That’s probably a factor but not the only one.
Most people own guns here and know how to use them. That’s a deterrent, certainly, but they also know who their neighbors are. There’s a much stronger sense of community. People here tend to look out for each other and are wary of strangers and unfamiliar vehicles in their neighborhoods.
Most rural towns in northern New England don’t have police departments, either. They rely on county sheriffs’ deputies and the state police. Because of logistics and geography, response times for those larger law enforcement agencies are slower than those for police departments in New York City or Boston. Rural people know this, so they’re not only more prepared to defend themselves, they’re more willing to do so as well. They’re much less likely to cower in the face of criminal aggression of any sort.
There’s been no let-up in gun crimes for either state since gun laws were relaxed, but the perpetrators usually had prior felony convictions, so carrying a gun remained illegal for them. That didn’t stop them, of course, but then it never did. If you look around and see where most gun crimes are committed, you’ll quickly learn that they’re places with strict gun control laws like Chicago and New York. Gun laws in those places have only been obeyed by the law-abiding. Criminals have historically ignored them.
Although Bernie Sanders has always been a doctrinaire lefty on nearly every issue since he was elected mayor of Burlington, Vt., almost 40 years ago, his position on gun control didn’t fit the mold. Is that because he knew he would never have been elected to statewide office there if he favored gun restrictions? His army of supporters would likely argue that Bernie has always been guided by principle over political expediency, but is that changing?
According to an article by Russell Berman in the Feb. 27 issue of The Atlantic:
“The senator from Vermont’s hallmark has been his consistency as an unbending progressive over four decades in elected office. Yet if Sanders has embodied left-wing purity more than any of the other potential Democratic nominees, gun policy is one area where his record has been far from pristine in the eyes of progressives … But it’s telling that on gun control, he has gone further this time around to repudiate his past positions and align himself with the Democratic Party’s mainstream opinion. ‘The world has changed, and my views have changed,’ he said at the February debate in New Hampshire.”
Was Bernie sincere about his gun control views 40 years ago? Is he caving in to political expediency here in 2020? He really wants to be president, but what if he loses to Joe Biden or Donald Trump? Can he be re-elected senator in Vermont now that he’s become a gun control advocate? We may never know, because he’s not up again until 2024 and by then he’ll be 82 years old. Maybe he’ll retire. Maybe he’ll change his position again.
While Democrats consider abortion their most important issue, gun control seems to have become the next most important. Maine and New Hampshire have been voting Democrat the past few cycles, and Vermont has been solidly “blue” for even longer. Maine and New Hampshire, however, are moving the other way on gun control. While Vermont has become even more leftist, there’s no indication they’ll tighten up on guns.
Tom McLaughlin lives in Lovell, Maine. He can be reached on his website at tommclaughlin.blogspot.com.