As a liberal anti-gun letter writer, I’d like to respond to Fred Walther’s opinion that guns are not the problem (Letters to the Editor, Feb. 14).

His point is that more guns in the public’s possession reduces crime. Statistically, he argues that the arming of America is the only way to drive down crime rates. He offers points to support his argument like our murder rate is lower than the world average, rural high-ownership areas are less crime-prone than urban areas, an armed populace deters and decreases crime and no single regulation has worked.

What regulation? There are laws that try to address firearms, but politicians are unable and unwilling to deal with the lobbying of the National Rifle Association. Gun “shows” offer firearms to the public with little or no regard to their backgrounds. Reasonable ideas such as a ban on assault weapons, large ammo clips and standards for more consistent requirements and checks for possession bring out the “constitutional” arguments of the NRA and defensive gun owners.

I agree that there are significant social issues that drive a sense of insecurity in people. We need to do much better, but I would venture to say that the improvements noted by the writer as due to increased arms ownership may in fact be due, just a little bit, to improved law enforcement and perhaps a populace inching up the ladder of evolution.

Liberals do not want to take your guns away. We wish for reasonable controls that will help everyone, especially law enforcement. Too many people are killed every year by guns. Period.

As for an armed populace that can play the role of law enforcement, it may be time to wear body armor to the mall. Please leave it to the law enforcement; they are trained and equipped for a reason.

Joseph A. Delaney

Portland

In a Feb. 14 letter, Fred Walther presented seven “facts” that he says “liberal letter writers” ignore when they write about gun control. Let’s ignore them (in paraphrase) no further:

1. Since 1965, the homicide rate in the United States has dropped, while gun use is up 50 percent. But much else has changed since 1965, and the homicide rate might have dropped even more if gun use had declined.

2. The U.S. homicide rate is lower than the world average. But it greatly exceeds the rate in all other industrialized nations.

3. Vermont has less restrictive gun laws than New York, and a lower homicide rate. But comparing a rural, homogenous state like Vermont to an urbanized, diverse one like New York is like comparing flintlocks and assault rifles.

4. Two and a half million times a year, a gun is used to thwart a crime in the United States. How many more homicides might there have been if those victims were unarmed? But how many fewer might there have been?

5. Florida saw a 30 percent drop in violent crime when citizens were allowed to carry weapons concealed with a permit. But association doesn’t prove causation, and other factors — economic, political, gang- and drug-related — could have been involved.

6. Some believe the drop in violent crimes “is because evil-doers now fear that their prospective victims may be armed.” But that isn’t even a fact. It’s anonymous opinion.

7. The National Academy of Sciences could not find a single gun regulation that clearly led to reduced violent crime or murder. But failure to prove is not proof of failure. And what the NAS actually said was that it is “impossible to draw strong conclusions from available evidence,” and “a comprehensive research program on firearms is needed.”

There. Mr. Walther’s “facts” are no longer ignored, and we can get back to the one unassailable gun fact that matters: They’re out of control.

Daniel Bryant
Cape Elizabeth 

Buck Buchanan’s argument for high-capacity clips for handguns (so he won’t have to reload after five shots) is almost funny. Wasn’t Gifford’s shooter disarmed while trying to put in a new clip? How many victims might still be alive if the empty one had held five rounds, not 30?

Robert Marsh
Sanford

Attacks on energy alliance embarrass Republican

I am embarrassed as a Republican to see the personal attacks on the employees of the Maine Green Energy Alliance from the Maine Republican Party.

I have worked with these individuals for several months. Three organizations I am associated with have sponsored their community outreach. It was not until this barrage of negative publicity that I learned “they” were Democrats.

The goal of the alliance was to educate homeowners on the importance of energy self-reliance and saving money on home energy. Self-reliance and saving money seemed to be a Republican concept.

The alliance was to inform people about Efficiency Maine’s rebate incentives and the Property Assessed Clean Energy program. PACE lets a homeowner borrow up to $15,000 at 4.99 percent to make energy improvements to their home. The owners must have a debt-to-income ratio of not more than 43 percent, and a loan-to-value ratio that will not exceed 100 percent of the municipality’s tax evaluation. This does not sound like welfare or a Democratic conspiracy.

Not meeting work goals should not be cause for a legislative investigation. The employees of the Maine Green Energy Alliance did what they could do under the circumstances. Let’s show some personal respect.

The primary reason for their failure is us, the citizens of Maine. I have been working with energy and weatherization contractors for the last few years. We are not convinced that we need to worry about saving energy. After all, we can install pellet stoves and put up wind turbines. The economy is poor and now is not the time to invest in our homes. Despite the excuses, the message of the Green Energy Alliance was: “You can make the PACE loan payments or the oil bill payments.” For now, we have decided on oil.

Bill Getz
Portland

‘Smart’ meters not the way Maine’s home life should be

CMP is in the process of installing Smart Meters on every household in Maine — which may not be a smart thing to do!

The Smart Meters give out non-ionizing radiation which CMP says is safe, but is under investigation as a possible carcinogen. Last year, the president’s Cancer Panel called this type of radiation a possible cause of cancer, urged more research and advised people to limit their wireless exposure.

Not only do these meters pose possible security and privacy problems (hackers) and expose us to non-ionizing radiation, they have caused problems upon installation for sensitive individuals, such as headaches, muscle spasms, heart palpitations, insomnia, dizziness, etc. Others have had problems upon installation with the functioning of medical equipment such as insulin and pain pumps.

Does it make you uneasy to be forced to have one of these new devices attached to your home? It should! Not only will you be exposed to the radiation from your own home and the neighborhood, but also from the network of these devices on every building as well as from new antennas which will be needed to support the network. This isn’t the way life should be!

Peer-reviewed studies (not funded by CMP) need to be done. Until then, we should have the right to opt out or even put a town moratorium in place.

Fortunately, alternatives do exist! Hard-wired cables and two-way transmitters are a safer route.

Laurie Wolfrum
Camden

Maine AllCare puts focus where it belongs: on patient

It was a breath of fresh air to read Maine AllCare’s vision of what health care in Maine could look like if we move to a rational model that takes profit out of the system, and instead focuses on the health of the patient and community.

The level of stress that would be lifted from our communities is palpable.

In these hard economic times, it’s frustrating to ponder the amount of money that goes from hardworking Mainers’ (and Maine’s businesses’) pockets directly to insurance companies’ profit margins.

Add to that the more than $3 billion of Mainers’ tax dollars that have been used since 2001 on the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, and it’s downright infuriating.

Maine can lead the way to a whole new set of budget and policy priorities. Thanks to Maine AllCare for the inspiration.

Mary Beth Sullivan, MSW
Bath

Uncle Sam should help only when we can’t help ourselves

If you accept the premise that people and entities should do for themselves what they possibly can without looking elsewhere for assistance, and that if assistance is needed, the closer to the need that assistance may be, the more appropriate and efficient that assistance will be, then individuals, our towns, and our state should stop looking for remote government handouts.

Our federal government is broke and currently headed for dire consequences. The cause is simple. Instead of limiting its activities to what the states and towns cannot do on their own, the federal government, frequently for selfish political purposes, has over the past 75 years undertaken to solve everyone’s problems.

That is not what our Founding Fathers envisioned for our country. This approach cannot be endured and must be reversed ASAP.

Unfortunately, when such an attempt is made, everyone hooked on government handouts screams bloody murder. Take, for an example, assistance for home heating and the reaction to the proposed federal cuts. Few would claim that some people don’t need such help, but the federal government should not be the entity providing it. Maine should solve its own problems and not be asking people in Hawaii to foot part of the bill.

We need a radical change in how we solve our problems; it won’t be easy, but we’ve got to stop complaining about it.

John Parker
Falmouth

Obama speech reminds us of his work for businesses

In a recent speech at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, President Obama reminded us of his solid track record of enacting pro-business initiatives starting with his first weeks in office.

Through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (the “stimulus bill”), Obama saved about 3 million American jobs — jobs that helped businesses retain the employee base they needed to support their U.S.-based businesses.

Furthermore, the related payroll tax holiday for new employees better enabled small businesses to hire additional employees.

Obama also finalized agreements with China and Korea in a historic move to increase U.S. exports, he increased funding to SBA business loan programs, improved educational programs to ensure American workers stay or become competitive in today’s global work force, and extended or created tax incentives and funds to put more money in the hands of small business owners.

Yes, Obama has asked something in return; he rightly asked business leaders to put that money back into the U.S. economy. I don’t consider that anti-business.

The Obama administration continually proves that it takes seriously its role in keeping the U.S. business climate strong, competitive, and most importantly, growing.

Barbara Corbeil
Biddeford

Story gave misleading idea on oyster fishery in Maine

Whether it was to sell more papers or because of statements made by others interviewed, “Oysters in Maine, a fishery’s uncertain fate” (Maine Sunday Telegram, Feb. 20) is misleading.

For Virginia oyster growers several decades ago, genetics were the “hope” and their industry had an “uncertain fate.” Thanks to their efforts, the Maine industry’s “fate” is really very predictable! For Maine oyster growers today, resistant oysters are not just hope, they are the solution to the problem.

When interviewed, I told Beth Quimby that Mook Sea Farm took a “big hit” and lost a lot of oysters to MSX. (We estimate the loss to be $150,000 to $200,000.) I also said (and this was the point) that we would have suffered heavier losses if it hadn’t been for the fact that a portion of our crop was resistant.

The real story is not the fate of oyster farming in the Damariscotta River. As with other areas that have in recent years suffered losses from MSX, the Damariscotta’s oyster production will quickly rebound.

The real news is that the Department of Marine Resources believes MSX was introduced — likely through the illegal importation of seed. If true, the guilty have not just caused financial loss for themselves and other growers in the Damariscotta River, they have put other Maine growing areas that may have received seed from the Damariscotta River during 2010 at risk for losses, too.

Bill Mook
Mook Sea Farm, Walpole