I was heartened to see President Obama’s thoughtful and comprehensive crime prevention proposal issued Jan. 16. And equally disheartened by the tepid reaction of three members of our Maine congressional delegation.

In particular, I was struck by Sen. Angus King’s statement that we should allow for “common-sense” exceptions to a background check system, such as occasional sales through Uncle Henry’s. We are talking about the sale of a lethal weapon, not a few extra guinea pigs.

After Newtown (after Aurora, after the Arizona massacre, after the dozens of gun deaths that occur every day in our nation), there is nothing common-sense about allowing a person to purchase a firearm without passing a background check. No exceptions.

Like all of us, I sat and wept when I heard about what happened in Newtown. There is no simple fix to our country’s problems with gun violence, but the slight inconvenience of a universal background check for all sales, occasional or frequent, is an important part of the answer.

Robert H. Levin

Portland

I have yet to find anyone who likes stoplights or seat belts, but most of us abide, and the roads are safer for it. For a legislator to maintain that any gun regulation cannot be considered because it is an infringement on our Second Amendment rights is indefensible.

Though I sympathize with their difficult position — basically, their justification for doing nothing without appearing in the thrall of special interests — the results are invariably disappointing. Twenty dead children versus the National Rifle Association and firearms manufacturers. Tough choice.

John Hughes

York

True story: Mike Shaw, a very good, longtime Democratic state representative for Standish, stated to me the other day:

“The Maine State Police have a list of over 5,500 people who have been adjudicated as mentally ill and have not given the information to ATF (the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives). So these people can buy guns, even if they fill out a background check with the ATF.”

This isn’t about Republicans or Democrats, this is about common sense. It is very clear we don’t need new gun laws or any new laws, as our government can’t afford to enforce the ones we have now.

If you are not active with your government, then your government will take away your freedoms, including the right to defend your family and yourself.

Get active: Email your state representatives, your state senator, your U.S. representative and your U.S. senators (you have two).

Remember, when seconds count, the Maine State Police are only minutes or hours away to help you.

Dave Call

Standish

This whole gun control issue makes me sick, and I can’t believe it’s gone as far as it has. To even consider changing the — our — Constitution is ludicrous.

That the president has proposed legislation banning assault-type weapons and ammunition is absolutely pointless. It’s not going to stop anyone who really wants to use a gun to cause terror and create disaster.

People are freaking out over the horrible murders of those precious young children in Connecticut. I get that people feel powerless and afraid, but this “trying to ban guns thing” is a knee-jerk reaction to a problem that nobody can solve because nobody can control what goes on inside the mind of another individual.

Bad people will always find guns and ammunition if that’s what they’re looking for. Banning them from the general public only makes the general public more vulnerable to the bad guys. A good guy with a gun can stop a bad guy with a gun before he/she kills multiple innocent, good people.

Let’s get real, America. Guns aren’t going away. They’ll only go underground. Then the crazies and the criminals will be the ones with the guns, and we law-abiding citizens will only have our words to use to protect our families. Think words are gonna stop a bullet?

Christa Kay

Topsham

Thank you for your editorial Jan. 17 supporting President Obama’s “common-sense reforms” to the nation’s gun laws (“Our View: Response to Newtown required bold actions“).

I am in complete agreement with the position expressed. I wish our entire congressional delegation were willing to take as “common-sense” a position.

When the Second Amendment was enacted, people did not use assault weapons to hunt and protect themselves. They do not need them now, either.

Madge Baker

Shapleigh

Incarcerated teenagers create striking displays

Every Christmas at the Long Creek Youth Development Center, residents in the living units pick a seasonal theme and decorate their common areas using their imaginations, creative talents and available materials.

Volunteers judge the success of these endeavors. The payoff for the kids, besides bragging rights, range from pizza and soda to an in-house movie with popcorn and the like.

Under the watchful eye of Emmy Brown, longtime volunteer services coordinator at Long Creek, we served as this year’s judges. As usual, each of the five units did a remarkable job, but two displays struck us so viscerally that they inspired special recognition.

In one unit, we were greeted by an enthusiastic group of young women who had put together a sequential rendition of scenes and quotes from “How the Grinch Stole Christmas.” This led to their holding hands around a tree and together singing the “Whoville Christmas Song.”

But, more emotionally, in concert with the “stolen Christmas” theme, the girls mounted a display of individually drawn angels, each representing one of the 20 children and six women who died in the Newtown, Conn., school shooting.

The other remarkable exhibit, which as a Christmas theme was a surprise, was presented by one of the young men’s units. Their display was centered on the individual photographs of the over 40 Maine boys lost in Iraq and Afghanistan along with a couple from New Hampshire, each photo accompanied with a short biography. Necessary research had been aided by the Long Creek librarian.

In each of these efforts, some of these incarcerated kids thought beyond themselves, the group bought in to an idea and they then carried it through. As judges, we were privileged to witness the results.

Frances Jane Addor and Roger Addor

Scarborough

Ted Brown

Brunswick