Pull trigger on guns in Acadia?

When listening to debate on L.D. 1737, I was struck by the words of state Sen. Stan Gerzofsky, D-Brunswick, and felt compelled to express my concerns. Specifically Sen. Gerzofsky stated ”Maine people need a place that they can enjoy and be guaranteed that no one will have loaded firearms.”

With all due respect to the senator, although I applaud his sentiment, his logic is deeply flawed. L.D. 1737 would only guarantee that no law-abiding citizen would be armed. It would do nothing to tangibly increase the safety of the people enjoying Acadia.

I do not want to see open carry in Acadia or on the Appalachian Trail; people come to enjoy these places and the beauty and solitude they offer. Many people, myself included, would feel the spirit of their experience compromised and may even feel intimidated or imposed upon by the sight of openly armed private citizens in these places of natural beauty.

However, I am in favor of allowing concealed carry of personal firearms for citizens who have permits. I believe in an inherent and undeniable right to self-defense and the right to defend one’s family. Unless the ability is protected as well, the right to self-defense is effectively denied.

By denying a reasonable and effective means of defending self and family, L.D. 1737 is in effect advocating that the right to self-defense in the remote areas of Acadia and on the Appalachian Trail be denied. The carrying of concealed firearms would not present a threat or aesthetic affront to any single law-abiding person.

However, by guaranteeing that no law-abiding citizens be permitted to defend themselves, L.D. 1737 would only be of real comfort to those predators among us who see the remoteness of our parks and trails as safe places for their criminal activities.

John Gardner

Bowdoin

 

It is amazing how the regulation of guns pops up in the darndest ways. Currently the National Rifle Association and the Sportsman’s Alliance of Maine are fighting for the right to carry guns in Acadia National Park so their members can defend themselves against criminals!

Here is the background: In September, a last-minute amendment to the federal credit card reform act (yes, that’s right, a credit card law!) repealed a policy established by Ronald Reagan that prohibited guns in national parks, but it allowed states to establish other policies and delayed the effective date of the law until February 2010.

A bill sponsored by House Speaker Hannah Pingree and others would restore the prior law (and treat Acadia and other national park lands in Maine the same as Maine state parks) by banning guns in national parks in Maine. The bill is supported by Friends of Acadia, the Appalachian Trail Conservancy and many other organizations.

The only organizations that opposed the bill at hearings in Augusta were the NRA and SAM. Both argued that their members need guns in the park in order to defend themselves against criminals. The NRA in a message to its members claimed the bill would turn ”our National Parks into victim zones by eliminating self-defense.”

One might ask why SAM, which supposedly represents hunters, now is so agitated about handguns and self-defense (maybe they are told what to do by the NRA?), but more broadly one might ask: Why are these guys so frightened? Do they really see a bogeyman behind every tree? Or is ”self-defense” just a subterfuge for the masculine swagger that carrying a gun in public makes some men feel more important?

Whatever the rationale for their position, it is dangerous; it would change the experience of visiting a national park in Maine; it has nothing to do with hunting, which always has been banned in Acadia; and it really doesn’t appeal to many members of the NRA or SAM who don’t need or care about the swagger of carrying handguns in public.

With one member absent, the Criminal Justice Committee split 6-6 on the bill, which will now go to a floor vote. Support for the bill can be sent to www.maine.gov/legis/.

Tom Franklin

Portland

 

Youth center team showed grit to play in state tourney

I was astonished to see the comments of the Vinalhaven basketball coach contained in the Telegram Feb. 14 commenting on the tournament play of kids from A.R. Gould High School (”In a different kind of court, incarcerated teenagers win twice”).

That high school is affiliated with the corrections program at Long Creek Youth Development Center in South Portland and is a wonderful effort by their athletic director, Kim Deering, and Rod Bouffard, who heads the school and provides rehabilitation for kids who have fallen into trouble with the law.

Coach Matt Slivinsky of Vinalhaven, I thought, was way off the mark — certainly further than most coaches — when he criticized these kids who are in a corrections setting for being allowed to play basketball.

Pardon me, but isn’t that the best thing that could happen to them and to the rest of us, for that matter?

They are in a corrections facility and they are trying to do better — they don’t have to play basketball. Slivinsky apparently is bent out of shape because, if his kids break the rules, they don’t get to play at all.

They aren’t in a corrections facility, either. Our governor is to be commended for being supportive of them and I certainly am, as are many other people. They’re simply trying to do better. The best of luck to them.

Jon R. Doyle

Augusta

 

Fishing permit banks trying to address severe problem

 In response to John Richardson’s Feb. 5 article, ”Permit bank to help rural fishing fleet,” I want to highlight the severity of the problem that permit banks seek to address.

I work for Penobscot East Resource Center in Stonington, whose mission is to secure a future for fishing communities in eastern Maine. Last year, we partnered with The Nature Conservancy of Maine to purchase a fishing permit to support sustainable fishing in this region.

Small-boat communities throughout New England, especially in Maine, and especially in eastern Maine, have systematically lost access to the groundfish fishery, with the most recent cut in fishing rights occurring last year. While there are 3,000 fishermen along the eastern Maine coast between Penobscot Bay and Canada, none of those fishermen is currently catching groundfish.

There are two reasons for this.

First, the fish disappeared inshore 15 years ago in eastern Maine. Second, federal fisheries managers just allocated future fishing rights based on how many fish fishermen caught starting 15 years ago — when no one was catching fish in eastern Maine.

This means that, as fish recover, fishermen who caught fish for years, but stopped when the stocks were down, are now permanently cut out of the fishery — unless they spend at least $100,000 for a permit.

The costs are becoming too great for small-scale fishermen, and these costs will only increase. At PERC, we will use our permit bank to support small-scale fishermen using sustainable, habitat-friendly gear to help the stocks recover.

We applaud the National Marine Fisheries Service and Maine’s Department of Marine Resources for similarly choosing to support traditional fishing communities with $1 million for permit banking in Maine.

Aaron Dority

Penobscot East Resource Center

Stonington

 

Democratic majority stymied by GOP exploiting Senate rules 

In his Feb. 14 letter, Albert Dow states that ”(Obama) has a majority in Congress in his own Democratic Party. It could pass any of this agenda at any time.”

Mr. Dow is correct about the House, which has passed a health reform bill, a cap-and-trade bill and a bill to regulate financial institutions.

In the Senate, however, the Democrats are not able to bring those bills up for a vote. They are stopped by Senate rules that allow a minority of 41 to block such votes, and the 41 GOP senators’ insistence on using that power whenever possible.

Ask Sens. Collins and Snowe to stop filibustering and allow votes on health care, cap-and-trade and financial regulation reform. Forty-one votes shouldn’t outweigh 59.

Jim Matthews

Portland