Let’s be clear and factual. No one has the absolute right to own or carry a gun. While NRA extremists would lead us to believe that the Second Amendment gives us that right, gun ownership and use is regulated, as it should be.

The real debate is how strictly guns should be regulated to protect us from criminals and those who are adjudicated to be mentally ill, for example.

The recent open-carry event at Back Cove in Portland highlights the extreme agenda to normalize Wild-West, let’s-take-the-law-into-our-own-hands, everyone-should-be-packing behavior.

We already know that easy access to guns is dangerous, and wonder why extremists keep trying to convince us that more guns are good for us. We know from the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that increasing the number of guns conversely increases the number of deaths by gun through accidental discharge, suicide or homicide.

The NRA argues that more gun regulation won’t stop criminals. No law stops everyone from doing what they shouldn’t be doing – how many people do you see speeding – but that shouldn’t stop us from having strong gun laws that help protect innocent people such as domestic violence victims.

Easy access is a problem. Maine provides criminals with a steady supply of guns, thanks to a loophole that allows the purchase of a gun without a background check (just ask the Acton man who sold hundreds of guns to criminals from away). Drugs are brought to Maine and guns leave, fueling the criminal trade in states like Massachusetts, which does have strong laws that work.

Almost 90 percent of Mainers want to close the so-called gun show loophole.

It should be more difficult for criminals to obtain guns in Maine. So why wouldn’t the NRA want to support that?

Karen A D’Andrea

Executive Director, Maine Citizens Against Handgun Violence

Portland

 

Medal of Honor is an award, not a prize

 

One can win a lottery, a foot race or a door prize. One is not the “winner” of the Medal of Honor (“Col. Charles P. Murray Jr., 89, WWII Medal of Honor winner,” headline on the Aug. 17 feature obituary).

The Medal of Honor is awarded for conspicuous gallantry above and beyond the call of duty. Please do not diminish its importance by suggesting it can be won like a raffle.

Lori Rumery

Gorham

 

Clergy don’t need exemption for gay unions

 

I am curious to know why those who crafted the petition to allow the state to issue marriage licenses for same-sex couples felt it necessary to specifically exempt clergy from any requirement to perform such ceremonies. Clergy act as agents of the state when they sign marriage licenses, but we have never been compelled to do so for any couple.

Churches and pastors may have specific parameters for marriage or they may just determine in pre-marital counseling that they have reservations about a specific couple and decline to marry them.

That said, many of us already are doing services for gay people without the legal blessing of the state. For those who are and those who are not performing such services, nothing will change when this law is passed.

In most other developed countries, the state legalizes unions and the church blesses them, each according to its own guidelines, rather than having clergy act as an unwilling agent of the state. Maybe that’s the next change we need to be thinking about.

Rev. Sally P. Poland

Old Orchard Beach

 

Does Portland have the money for public art?

 

In response to the Portland Public Art Committee reaching out to the community to get its recommendations for public benches along the Bayside Trail: Why does the city have to spend so much money on “usable art benches?”

Can’t the city just go out and buy, I don’t know, benches? I can understand if they want something more than plain, ordinary benches. You can spend between $500 and $800 and get some beautiful, sturdy, granite benches.

I’m all for art, but come on, a bench is a bench. I mean, really, look at the oil tanks. Who is saying, “Wow, those are beautiful”? No, they are oil tanks. What a waste of money.

Maura Pelletier

Gorham

Jed Rathband stands out for Portland mayor

 

The field of candidates for Portland’s mayoral election keeps growing, but for me, one candidate has stood out from the beginning.

Jed Rathband is a new name in Portland politics, but he is one candidate that voters will want to meet and remember. I’ve known Jed going on a decade and have grown to respect and admire his enthusiasm and readiness to take on difficult tasks by listening, focusing and collaborating.

Jed’s fresh ideas, experience and energy position him as the candidate who can best maximize the new position to move Portland beyond the current City Hall culture into an era that celebrates Portlands potential, diversity and magnificence.

I’ve personally worked with Jed on growing the small-business economy across Maine. I’ve watched Jed work with rural and urban small-business owners, legislators and policymakers. I am especially impressed by Jed’s focus on economic development, and I know that Jed feels Portland’s current haphazard approach to courting businesses is not working and that we must target the companies that will thrive in Portland – not employ a “one size fits all” model.

Through his experience with the Portland Public Schools Marketing Committee, the East Bayside Neighborhood Organization, the Quimby Family Foundation, and as a small-business owner himself, Jed has been at the forefront of educational, environmental and neighborhood issues in and around Portland. Jed consistently demonstrates the skills of listening to advance the best ideas.

Portland’s new mayor will play a key role in advocating for Portland’s interests in City Hall and Augusta, as well as continuing to build Portland’s reputation nationally and beyond. I am confident that if Jed is elected, he will bring fresh ideas, experience and proven collaborative skills to the job of mayor, and that’s why I’m voting for Jed on Nov. 8.

Deborah Cook

Portland