Evelyn Beatrice Hall, in summing up the world view of Voltaire, coined the saying: “I do not approve of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it.”

People on both sides of the “open carry” issue agree with this broad-shouldered concept of liberty. It makes discourse productive on an important issue like gun rights and regulations — an issue so vital to the framers that they addressed it in the Second Amendment.

The subject this Sunday, though, is not the right to keep and bear arms. Rather, the narrow issue we in Portland face is whether public safety in Portland is helped or hindered by the absence of any restrictions on openly carrying loaded weapons, as will occur near Back Cove.

We rely on the Portland Police to keep order, not displays of raw force by civilians. No good can come of walking down the street in Portland openly displaying a loaded weapon.

It endangers everyone. It puts police officers at risk. And it creates fear. Legal or not, it’s not a reasonable thing to do. We all have the right to walk our streets without being afraid of guns.

To me, it is like yelling fire in a crowded theater. The crowd does not know if there is really a fire. They just panic. The unreasonableness of yelling fire when there is no fire outweighs free speech, and is not protected by the First Amendment.

In the same way, if you’re openly packing heat in Portland and you’re not in a uniform — or a well-regulated militia — how are we to know if you are a Constitutionalist or a killer?

Openly carrying a loaded weapon in an urban area where there are duly sworn police officers — and no federal troops — should not be inviolate under the Second Amendment. After 9/11, communities in Maine and everywhere should be allowed to regulate this.

A concealed weapons permit means the person has been trained and vetted. We should apply the same regulation to openly carrying a loaded weapon in public.

The Legislature would promote the general welfare by enabling cities and towns to restrict open carry. In Portland, an open carry permit requiring certification by our Police Department would be a good first step.

I am looking forward to democracy at its best and a fun, friendly afternoon in the park on Sunday. Join us!

Dan Skolnik

City Councilor, District 3

Portland

With regard to the “open carry” demonstration this weekend.

Thirty five years ago, at a time when parts of the world were more friendly to the United States, I had the opportunity to travel and spend time in the Middle East and Asia.

I passed through 15 countries between Turkey and Indonesia on extended trips over a period of a several years as a photographer. For the most part it was a very peaceful experience.

The only place I remember where the general population carried guns openly was the tribal areas near Tora Bora at the border of Afghanistan and Pakistan where nearly every man had a rifle slung over his shoulder. The car I was traveling in was shot at and we were lucky to get away.

I find it ironic and a little sad to see a movement here that thinks that more people carrying guns openly will somehow make us safer. We need look no further than the example of Afghanistan to see where that line of thinking leads.

Chris Wriggins

Yarmouth

As reported in the Portland Press Herald, a group of people plans to stage a rally near Back Cove on Sunday while wearing their guns.

I respect the Second Amendment and I also respect their right to carry a concealed weapon as long as they have a permit. I also understand their right to demonstrate.

However, to pick a site like Back Cove is almost sacrilegious. The walking path goes right through the parking lot and it will likely be filled with parents, baby carriages, toddlers, couples and singles and a various array of dogs and whomever else wants to enjoy the peace and scenery of this environment.

I am afraid of people carrying guns in public places. It isn’t so much the gun, it is the person carrying. It doesn’t take much for a bystander to make an innocent remark that would incite some kind of incident. Portland police would also be put in jeopardy.

There is so much anger venting itself in our country today in all kinds of manner, whether it is politics, road rage or a myriad of other self-interest problems; we don’t need such an incident in our community.

Portland is a great place to live. Tourists come to visit Portland from all over the country because of our love of nature, our history, our architecture and our waterfront.

We do not need to expose a family environment and nature lovers to this kind of rally. Hopefully, this group will demonstrate some other place or not at all.

Evelyn D. King

Portland

Regarding the “open-carry” event scheduled Sunday at Portland’s Back Cove involving folks wearing holstered firearms in public.

The organizer of this event, Shane Belanger, is quoted as saying, “It is going to show that not all people who carry guns are bad.”

I don’t believe that I can determine the state of mind of 20-plus gun owners by watching them parade by with loaded weapons on their hips.

I have no way of looking into their souls to determine whether their intentions are good or bad, or even if they are qualified to fire their weapons.

Belanger also claims that the open-carry movement has been sweeping the United States. Sounds like we’re headed back to the frontier days when men wore six shooters to fend off the hostiles and the guys in black hats.

Wearing a holstered firearm in public is legal under present laws. But displaying a loaded weapon openly is more than a legal issue. There is the moral aspect. the detrimental effect on their fellow Americans who do not happen to share their love of guns.

If these folks persist in their “I climbed the mountain because it was there” attitude, I intend to avoid them whenever possible.

While “open-carriers” are exercising their rights, I will take full advantage of my rights. If one of these upstanding “open-carriers” enters a public place when I am present, I will notify the owner of the establishment that I am uncomfortable with the sight of an exposed weapon and leave.

My fervent hope is that we will not be reading a future news article about a self-inflicted wound or an innocent bystander killed by a stray bullet involving an “open-carrier.”

Phyllis Kamin

Cumberland

Scarcelli’s business acumen makes her a good candidate

As a Democrat, I want government to be a positive force in our society. As a small business owner, I often cringe when I watch government in action. As someone deeply concerned about moving the state away from its dependence on foreign oil, I want to see a governor with a robust energy policy.

Rosa Scarcelli has a unique approach that reflects her fundamental attitude as a business leader. Rather than provide subsidies to the technology of the day, her approach is to have the state set the conditions for the private sector to solve the energy crisis on its own.

She has correctly identified finance as the missing link for Maine to move aggressively forward with the critical mission of reducing our dependency on foreign oil.

She supports PACE legislation which will allow homeowners to borrow money for energy efficiency improvements. The approach would cost the taxpayer nothing, and would result in a massive transition away from oil.

With the will of the people to get off of oil already under way, and the ability to borrow money for cost effective energy projects, the creative forces of the private sector will be unleashed. Jobs will be created in energy efficiency and we’ll have a more competitive economy.

In a stable filled with lifelong politicians, Rosa Scarcelli stands apart. She represents the kind of leadership we need in Maine, a leader with a vision of where we need to go, with a business owner’s approach of getting there in the most cost-effective manner.

Patrick Coon

South Portland

Resident appreciates cleanup of Back Cove

Thank you to whoever picked up the trash around Back Cove this week. I have frequently thought of bringing a trash bag and doing it myself but never did. It looks amazing. It is people like you who make Portland a great place to live.

Amy Dye

Portland

School honor codes definitely have a place

I am writing regarding the family in Yarmouth that is suing the high school. To me it’s very simple. The family would have had credibility had they hired a lawyer instead of signing the honor code.

Instead, they signed it, not intending to abide by it, then blamed everyone else when the school hands down a punishment.

It’s very clear to me that the family just wants to save their daughter from any accountability for her actions. And as far as authorities speaking to her without her parents or a lawyer, give me a break! It happens all the time.

What bothers me the most is that young people are being taught that their word means nothing and they really shouldn’t be held to any standard. How sad!

Nancy Dipretoro

South Portland

Exactly. Adolescents do make mistakes because their judgment is still developing. And because their judgment is still developing there are rules put in place by adults to substitute for that very lack of judgment. That is what competent parents do. That is what competent school personnel do.

I hardly think the consequences in theYarmouth High case were “weighty,” as the girl’s lawyer stated, for there are far more serious consequences awaiting in the future for children who are encouraged not to follow the rules, believing they are the exception.

Alice Leighton

Portland