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Survey Shows Maine Democrats Out of Step With Voters on Gun Control

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This year’s legislative in Maine was dominated by discussions about gun control; not surprising, perhaps, given the shootings in Lewiston last fall that claimed the lives of 18 people and left 13 others injured. But according to a new survey of Maine voters, gun control isn’t a top priority, and less than half of those surveyed want more restrictions on the right to keep and bear arms. 

The survey was conducted by Digital Research Inc., a Portland, Maine outfit that conducts its “Critical Insights Poll” twice a year. The most recent survey quizzed 609 registered voters in Maine about their views on a variety of issues, and found that, like most other Americans, Mainers are mainly concerned about economic issues.

The top three of the eleven listed issues all focused on the economy. 

Respondents were not given a multiple choice option, instead they were asked without prompts what they believe the most pressing issue facing Maine is.

Maine’s skyrocketing housing costs emerged as the top issue for voters, with 15 percent agreeing that housing is the most important issue facing the state.

In a close second, 14 percent said that the economy in general is the most pressing problem in the state, while 11 percent cited the cost of living as the top issue.

The top non-economic issue was homelessness, which has harmed the quality of life for everyday Mainers across the state, particularly in Democrat-controlled cities such as Portland. Nine percent of responders saw homelessness as the most pressing issue facing the state.

Guns and gun control were at the bottom of the list, with just 4% of respondents naming it their top issue. In another sign that Democrats are out of step with voters when it comes to gun control, the survey found 46% of those polled in favor of more gun laws, while 14% preferred fewer gun laws and another 36% wanted to keep the status quo in place (another 4% were undecided or didn’t respond). 

Gov. Janet Mills signed multiple pieces of gun control legislation into law this session, including a 72-hour waiting period on firearm transfers and background check requirements on guns advertised for sale. Both provisions have drawn objections from groups like the Sportsman’s Alliance of Maine, but the waiting period bill has also been criticized by the state’s largest firearm retailer. 

Kittery Trading Post, a family-owned operation that’s been around since 1938, announced after Mills signed the waiting period bill that it would move its firearms operations across the border into New Hampshire if the law takes effect, which would mean the loss of hundreds of thousands of dollars in tax revenue for the state.

Kittery Trading Post said it annually sells more than $11 million worth of new and used firearms and that 60 percent of its firearms business involves out-of-state residents. If the waiting period law takes effect, it estimated a more than $400,000 loss in sales tax revenue and a loss of 40,000 customers annually.

The company said the waiting period measure forces “law-abiding customers” to make two visits over three days to complete a sale, which “means extra time, gas and sundries which further drives up the cost of the transaction for the consumer.”

Kittery Trading Post Vice President Fox Keim told the Bangor Daily News the company and its 350 employees “cater to a diverse clientele and have historically stayed out of politics.”

“This law will impact all categories of business, not just firearms,” Keim said. “We are a multi-generational family destination store and will fight to uphold our values.”

In the months since the shooting in Lewiston it has become obvious that the killing spree could have been prevented if the laws that were already in place had been enforced, but Democrats shamelessly exploited that tragedy to pin the blame on the state’s gun laws. 

According to the Critical Insights Poll, just 22% of respondents say the state is heading in the right direction. Voters have the opportunity to chart a new course this November; one that recognizes the importance of the right to keep and bear arms rather than infringing on it. 

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