As the U.S. experiences the deadliest mass shooting this year, young people once again suffer the consequences while politicians wait on the sidelines
LEWISTOWN, ME — Last night, at least 18 people were killed and another 13 injured in a mass shooting at two locations in Lewiston, Maine, sending shockwaves across the country—an astonishing death toll considering that the state had only 29 homicides in all of 2022. We grieve for those lost and fight on in their honor. The first shooting occurred at a local restaurant where several members of the deaf community were killed, and the second was at a bowling alley filled with children and families participating in a youth bowling league. Once again, our most vulnerable neighbors bear the brunt of the gun violence epidemic. And once again, early reporting suggests that there were signs that the shooter was known to authorities. As authorities continue to search for the shooter, entire towns are on lockdown and living the American nightmare.
As activists and survivors, we know all too well the devastation that Mainers are feeling. We know how it feels to wake up and find your community has been shattered by a man with a weapon designed for the battlefield. While Maine prides itself on responsible gun ownership, its gun laws do not reflect that—the state doesn’t require permits to carry guns, does not allow Extreme Risk Protection Orders, and does not require background checks on all gun sales. Proposals to tighten background checks, create a 72-hour waiting period for gun purchases, and ban bump stocks have all failed in the state legislature. This tragedy is yet another example of violence abetted by politicians who have failed us time and again by refusing to take action. Senator Susan Collins holds a “B” rating from the NRA, while Governor Janet Mills received an “A” grade from the Sportsman’s Alliance of Maine (SAM). Governor Mills went so far as to water down the language of a bill that would have essentially established an Extreme Risk Protection Order in Maine. Senator Angus King has also himself stood in the way at times of moves for gun safety. Our message is clear: we need forceful leaders willing to take risks for our lives, not political opportunists willing to delay and compromise on lifesaving action. The time for action was yesterday.
“I’m horrified. This is an American nightmare. How many times do young people have to say enough?” said David Hogg, March For Our Lives Co-Founder and Board Member. “It bears repeating again and again – these tragedies, these shootings, this senseless loss of life, is preventable. We have the solutions, and we know they work. We just need leaders who will do more than peddle bullshit and put people over their own ambitions.”
“What was supposed to be a fun night during the week, grabbing some food with friends and a family outing at the bowling alley, turned deadly as people jumped behind tables and hid behind pins and bowling balls to dodge bullets,” said Trevon Bosley, Chair of March For Our Lives Board. “This is the sad reality in America today. Whether it’s schools, movie theaters, parks, convenience stores, and now restaurants and bowling alleys – nowhere is safe, especially not for our children or our young people.”