Last week, I wrote about the many failures of Maine’s mental health care system as a factor in the Lewiston shootings. Now it’s time to talk about the weapons involved. And not just about the way our loosey-goosey “wild west” laws allow guns to fall into criminal hands; I mean we need to talk about the actual physical devices.

Unlike the laws of our country, the laws of physics cannot be debated, amended or voted on. The size and speed of bullets matter. Bigger + faster = deadlier. There’s a reason that the deadliest mass killers of the past decade have chosen to use AR-10s or rifles in that style: The guns make it easier to kill a lot of people very quickly with minimal skill.

If they don’t hit a vital organ and the victim gets prompt medical attention, handgun bullets are often survivable. To murder someone with a handgun, you need either decent aiming skills or luck. With an AR-10-style rifle, you just need the old “spray and pray” method.

In the aftermath of a mass shooting, one phrase we all hear from the survivors is how fast the whole event happened. The bullets’ size and speed mean that they can leave exit holes the size of an orange in a human body. If you have an orange in your kitchen, go ahead and hold it up against your body.

Even if that shot doesn’t directly hit a vital organ, the chances are a victim will die of massive blood loss at the scene before they can even get to the hospital for surgery. And if it does hit a vital organ, that vital organ will be destroyed, not just damaged. Magazines are another factor. The more bullets you can fire before having to pause and reload, the more people you can kill.

We need stronger laws. We need to make it harder for the wrong people to acquire guns, and we need to make those guns less deadly. If that means the average citizen is slightly inconvenienced by a two-day waiting period or a background check or can’t make as much noise at the shooting range as they want, I don’t care. I just don’t.


But a democratic government is only as good as its people. And it sure seems like people are willing to accept the storm of a mass shooting rolling through every once in a while. And now it’s rolled through Maine, just like it’s rolled through Newtown and Uvalde and Sutherland Springs, and – well, I could list all the mass shootings committed by assault-style rifles, but I have a word-count limit.

Shortly after the massacres, Sen. Angus King said of Maine, “this is not who we are.” But it is.

The fact that this killing happened proves that this is who we are. One of the worst things about the Lewiston shooting was how routine and predictable it was: A man who was basically a walking red flag took an AR-10-style rifle into a crowded area and shot a bunch of innocent people before any first responders could get there to help. The only obvious difference in the national pattern was the two-day manhunt.

I’ve written columns about guns before, and I’m sick of having to tiptoe around the feelings of gun nuts. “Pwease sir, just let us have an itty bitty bit of gun control, you won’t even notice it.” People who apparently have no sense of self or security outside of their ability to kill others disgust me.

I care about the Constitution enough to carry a copy in my purse at all times, but even I find it hard to give much of a crap about anything written about arms in an era when putting on a heavy winter coat could render you more or less bulletproof.

I’m on my local school board, and last night, I was at a meeting where we were given a presentation about the various age-appropriate methods of responding to an armed intruder being taught in our district. During that same meeting, a member of the public who I know to be a gun owner said to us that he couldn’t say what he wanted to say during the public comment portion of the meeting because the cops who were present would have to drag him out. That was scary. And that’s the world we live in. Was this all part of George Washington’s grand plan?

If your entire sense of self and security depends on having unimpeded access to guns, you need Jesus or a therapist – maybe both. I’m sick of a tiny, noisy, heavily armed minority of the population derailing any chance of changing our country’s gun laws because they are so obsessed with their death devices.

Victoria Hugo-Vidal is a Maine millennial. She can be contacted at:
Twitter: @mainemillennial

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