February 3, 2013

Letters to the editor: Assault rifle ban 'not the answer'

Sen. Dianne Feinstein's S. 150 gun ban bill ("US Senate bill to ban assault weapons unveiled," Jan. 24) is a wrongheaded approach to our nation's problems with violence.

Guns Across America Rally
click image to enlarge

Chance Novak, 18, left, and his father, Chet, both of Boise, stand outside the Idaho Statehouse in Boise after a pro-gun rally Jan. 19, as part of Gun Appreciation Day events held around the country.

Adam Eschbach/Idaho Press-Tribune via AP

Maine has a strong tradition of responsible firearm ownership, an excellent record of safety and some of the lowest crime rates in the nation.

As a comparison, Detroit has a population of 700,000 people and had 380 murders in 2012, while Maine has a population of 1.3 million people and averages around 30 murders per year.

So if more gun control leads to less gun crime and fewer gun controls lead to more gun crime, as the national elites would have us believe, then why is Maine's murder rate per capita 25 times less than Detroit's?

As a degreed historian, I see Maine's example as evidence that our nation does not have a firearm problem, it has a social problem.

The family unit is breaking down, poverty is on the rise, extreme violence is glorified in movies and video games, and our underpaid teachers have little recourse when they encounter verbal abuse and violence in their own classrooms.

Banning firearms from law-abiding citizens and leaving them at the mercy of criminals is clearly not the answer. I can speak to this issue personally, as I was a victim of a home invasion in 1989 when I was home alone at the age of 11.

Let's not allow the same national hysteria that granted passage to the Patriot Act to be used in permanently undermining our Second Amendment rights.

Matthew Acheson

Orono

Readers debate meaning of the Second Amendment

I read with interest the letters to the editor published in the Maine Sunday Telegram on Jan. 6. Two letters placed under the banner "Repeal the Second Amendment" -- one written by Mark MacLeod and the other by Robert Gillies -- caught my attention.

Mr. MacLeod refers to the amendment's "vague wording," while Mr. Gillies suggests its "wording and curious punctuation" cause its interpretation to be "ambiguous." I beg to differ.

Any sentence can be picked apart and scrutinized for the author's meaning, be it overt or unstated, but for me -- a registered Democrat and non-National Rifle Association member -- the interpretation, and more importantly its intent, is clear: "the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed."

As Mr. MacLeod points out, our Constitution and its original amendments were born from a "long, bloody revolution" against an unresponsive and uncaring government. The men constructing the Bill of Rights must have believed that all of these amendments are important enough to outline and define to the best of their ability.

Using Mr. MacLeod's logic that a "professional military, augmented by the National Guard, the Reserves, the Coast Guard and professional police" renders the need for "citizen soldiers" moot, then one can make the argument that with the plethora of private and public news media outlets, PACs and other professional experts and pundits, the citizen orator is no longer needed and the First Amendment should be scrapped and rewritten.

We can further justify this through Mr. Gillies' assertion that "a common-sense framework" can be developed so that it "is fair to the greatest number of people," if they can show it is "a part of their heritage and culture."

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