While I have been blessed to be a Maine resident, I am a Chicagoan: the city with the strictest gun laws in the USA.

Gun registration and control — even direct prohibition — do not reduce gun violence. Concealed carry is illegal in the state of Illinois. Nor does the state recognize concealed-carry licenses issued in any other states.

Furthermore, on April 16, 1982, Chicago required registration of all guns and prohibited the registration of handguns — which, effectively, outlawed handguns.

Fast forward to July 2013: Over the extended Fourth of July weekend, 47 shootings echoed through this city, killing 11 and wounding dozens more, including a 5-year-old boy. On July 10, Illinois state Sen. Monique Davis requested that the National Guard assist the local police! Despite a massive police presence (and budget), Chicago cannot contain, let alone decrease gun violence.

Federal gun registration is a slippery slope. Mark Kelly, the husband of Gabrielle Giffords, during his stopover in Maine declared that he does not buy the “slippery slope” argument that gun registration will lead to more gun restrictions.

Mr. Kelly is offering an opinion that directly conflicts with the facts of U.S. history and present-day American life. From a humble directive after the Sept. 11, 2001, tragedy, the National Security Administration has exponentially expanded its surveillance operations to such a degree that it effectively conducted warrantless wiretapping on hundreds of millions of Americans.

Some may argue, “This is Maine, not Chicago.” There are pieces of Chicago everywhere in Maine. Places where the gap between rich and poor is widening, where children lack guidance, where parents struggle with poverty, where people have lost hope.

If we choose to try to regulate and legislate our local security through Washington rather than looking in our own neighborhoods, liberty will be lost on a slippery, but absolute, slope.

Dean Rinaldi

Ogunquit

Program helps families eat healthy diet on a budget

As community advocates for ending hunger and strong Share Our Strength partners, we see families every day that want the best for their children. But for many families, that is not always easy. One out of four children in Maine struggles with hunger. We joined the fight against childhood hunger for them.

Luckily, the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (formerly food stamps) helps families make ends meet when they have fallen on hard times. But even with added resources, families still might not know how to stretch their food dollars to buy healthy items for their kids. That’s where SNAP Education comes in.

With the right skills, eating healthy can be possible even on a SNAP budget, which averages $1.48 per meal per person. SNAP Education helps families gain skills to be more prudent providers for their children for a lifetime. Nearly 40 percent of SNAP Education participants say the program helps reduce the number of days their families faced hunger during a month.

Investing in SNAP Education isn’t just the right thing to do; it’s the smart thing to do. Good nutrition leads to reduced health care costs, academic success and a stronger workforce. Families who use smart shopping and healthy cooking skills can save around $46,000 in lifetime health care costs and wages lost to sick days.

Congress is currently working on the federal budget, and SNAP Education funding is at risk of funding cuts. If the program is cut, it means fewer families will be able to receive nutrition education, which could hurt the overall health of our children.

We are in this fight to speak up for the millions of kids across the country who can’t speak up for themselves. We urge members of the Maine congressional delegation to protect SNAP Education funding!

John T. Woods

chairman, Share Our Strength — Maine

Portland

Courtney Kennedy

Cooking Matters program coordinator and nutrition and education manager, Good Shepherd Food Bank

Auburn

Critics of Zionism oppose homeland for Jewish people

The prevalence of promoting academic boycotts of Israeli professors in European universities and colleges is a troubling development.

Having had the opportunity to ask two British professors why European intelligentsia have caught the virus of anti-Semitism, they were startled and professed that they (and most others in Europe and many in the United States) are only anti-Zionist.

I explained to them that Zionism was a national liberation movement of European Jews to promote the establishment of a Jewish state in the biblical land of Israel. There are as many shades of Zionists and Zionism as there are shades of U.S. citizens and U.S. politics, from communists and socialists to fascists and libertarians.

To say that one is anti-Zionist is to say that one opposes the existence of the state of Israel as a Jewish homeland and country predominantly occupied by Jews.

One does not have to be reminded of the history of the Jewish people to realize that having a country of one’s own is an absolute necessity for survival, the Jewish people having just lost one-third of those people a short time ago while the world sat on its hands and watched.

One can argue with the policies of a particular Israeli government, group or leader. But proposing the eradication of the state of Israel by promoting an anti-Zionist message is not the same as disagreeing with policy. There is no doubt that the end of Israel in that neighborhood would result in the literal end of most of the Jews residing there. That position can only be described as anti-Semitic.

Paul Aranson

Scarborough

Snowe’s support for LePage shows she puts party first

I am very surprised that Olympia Snowe was a “co-hostess” of the recent fundraiser to help Gov. Paul LePage in his upcoming campaign for re-election.

She has stated that one of her main reasons for leaving the Senate was the intransigence of both the left and the right and the inability of both parties to compromise.

I have been told that she was not in attendance at the actual event, but her lending her name to co-host a fundraising event to help one of the most intransigent governors I’ve seen in my 77 years on this earth denigrates her reputation, calls into question the basis for her leaving the Senate, and moves her solidly into ranks of the my-party-over-my-state folks.

Gary A. Getchell

Dresden