To the Editor:
When we hear of the mass shooting of innocent children, I think every one of us, regardless of our politics, wants to find a way to make this happen far less in America. That children or teenagers should not live out their full lives as a result of another’s anger or mental imbalance challenges every observer to reach inside and think from the beginning: How can we stop this?
Yet the answer does not come easily. Our constitution permits citizens to own and bear firearms. I don’t know about you, but there’s a sassy frontier person in me that wants to keep that freedom.
But because technology has increased the lethality of firearms by many orders of magnitude, and because our far-greater population means that, in final numbers, many more dangerous people are at large than in colonial times, we might have to bring thoughtful regulation to the bearing of arms.
To keep the freedom, we must add care.
The present Maine Referendum Question 3 is not a bleeding-heart “take away my guns” measure. It addresses all the objections a careful gun-owner would have. It simply closes a loophole that allows some gun buyers to avoid the background checks that are now are almost universal.
Many other states already have passed a law like this, making background checks quite common. Those states have seen an enormous decrease, almost 40 percent in the number of police killed by criminals, of women killed in domestic violence, and in gun suicides.
Maine, I think, would be proud to be a part of this success.
Each year, 5,500 guns are sold and shipped from Maine to Massachusetts without background checks. This is because Massachusetts has closed this loophole, but Maine hasn’t. Now is our chance to close it.
This law, by itself, will not eliminate mass shootings. A troubled teenager can still go to a parent’s gunroom and grab assault weapons. Yet voting “yes” on Question 3 moves us toward responsibility without taking away a tradition many want to keep.