EDITORIAL: More Death, Endless Grief

The above headline could refer to any number of places around the world, not least the Middle East right now.

But it actually refers to Lewiston, a town in Maine once made famous by a boxing match between Muhammad Ali and Sonny Liston, and now handed unwelcome infamy as a result of a mass shooting in which victims included families and friends out for a night's fun at a bowling alley and a bar/restaurant.

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This page is familiar with Lewiston. It is a quintessential American blue collar town with Maine ingredients. Many of the people living within the town's boundaries are of French ancestry. You will hear French spoken in that bowling alley, that bar, in a diner or a store.

The circumstances surrounding last week's slaughter are all too familiar: a gunman with mental health issues and a military grade assault "long gun" which he was able to purchase legally - despite those mental health issues. 

Back in 1994, President Bill Clinton signed a federal assault weapons ban. It would be in force for ten years before sunsetting. Efforts to restore it since 2004 have failed.

Now it would not be the case that even a renewed ban, perhaps with accompanying restrictions on large magazines and certain kinds of bullets, will end mass shootings. But combined action would likely reduce the casualty rate over time if even by just a few souls.

So you would think that a renewal would be a no-brainer. Sadly, no.

There is neither the will nor even the interest in the majority in Congress to bring in any restrictions on guns, no matter how minor. Similar views are held in all too many state legislatures. And this in a nation with an estimated 120 guns for every 100 people.

The Second Amendment speaks of a "well regulated militia." When it comes to America and the proliferation of guns, including assault weapons, what we have is something more akin to a case of unregulated gun obsession and mass paranoia.

Gun sales will rise after Lewiston, not fall.

Maine is a gun state. The vast majority of gun owners who call it home are responsible people. Many own hunting rifles. Most hunters will tell you that you don't go after a deer with an assault rifle. An assault rifle is a people killer.

And now we mourn and await the next mass shooting, which federal law enforcement defines as four or more people killed. And that would be a mass shooting of sufficient size to generate national and international headlines. Many of the "smaller" mass shootings do not make the news outside their immediate localities. There are hundreds of them every year within the fifty states.

Here's a question. What actual harm would it do to the United States of America if restrictions were placed on the purchase of assault weapons, high capacity magazines and "killer" bullets?

What harm indeed?

If a definition of stupidity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result, how do we define tragic result after tragic result and doing nothing at all?