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.
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.
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.
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."
We better get started -- this could take a while.
The only amendment to the Constitution written with its own preamble is the Second: "A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed." The preamble sets down the purpose of the amendment, and the only purpose enacted is contained in the text itself.
This purpose, as explained in the book "On Reading the Constitution," by Laurence H. Tribe, "most plausibly may be read to preserve a power of the state militias against abolition by the federal government, not the asserted right of individuals to possess all manner of lethal weapons."
This reading is grounded in the Supreme Court's unanimous decision in the principal Second Amendment case, United States v. Miller (1939), which held that the Second Amendment protected the citizen's right to own firearms that were ordinary militia equipment, but not, as in defendant Jack Miller's case, an unregistered sawed-off shotgun.
The analogous case today would likely involve an assault weapon instead of a sawed-off shotgun, but the reasoning should be the same.
Similar well-considered restrictions on criminal possession, such as certain registration schemes and specific prohibitions regarding age and the mentally ill, are certainly within constitutional bounds and are not repugnant to the purpose of the Second Amendment.
Two subsequent Supreme Court decisions (District of Columbia v. Heller, 2008, and McDonald v. Chicago, 2010), affirming a right to own handguns in Washington, D.C., and Chicago, do not substantially challenge this principle.
They leave open the question of how stringent such regulations may be without implicating the Second Amendment, or barring weapons regulations entirely.
That question is a good one, perhaps the best one, to focus on in our ensuing debate.
Propane tank project raises ecological, safety concerns
I am firmly in opposition to the proposed DCP Midstream 23 million-gallon propane storage tank in Searsport. My concerns are as follows:
• The public good: This project is not in the best interest of the people of Maine. It appears to primarily benefit the fossil fuel industrialists who are proposing it.
• Environmental sustainability: Given the overwhelming scientific evidence that hydrocarbons from burning of fossil fuels are disrupting the Earth's climate, such an aggressive expansion of the burning of propane is the wrong direction for Maine, as it is for the rest of the world.
Climate change should be a grave concern for all thinking and moral persons. The supply-side energy paradigm (i.e., the more that's available, the more we use) has failed us. It is time to redirect our efforts toward sustainable energy solutions.
• Public safety: Routes 1 and 3 are notoriously congested and unsuitable for such an industrialized enterprise, both for trucking the product as well as for the evacuation of men, women and children in the event of an emergency.
• Tourism and aesthetics: The unspoiled beauty of coastal Maine is a priceless and irreplaceable state treasure. The tank will tower far above the natural horizon of Penobscot Bay and be an aesthetic blight on Maine for generations into the future.
• Statewide significance: The project has been deemed to be only of "local" significance. But I strenuously disagree that it is simply a local issue. This represents a wrong-headed direction, of statewide significance.
It is an affront that jeopardizes Maine's worldwide image as an environmentally wise and thoughtful steward of world-class natural resources. If allowed to go forward at all, it must be subject to the highest level of statewide oversight of safety, energy and environmental issues.
Susan P. Davies
Endowment offers alumni way to give back to UMaine
University of Maine alumni who have an IRA can create an endowment at the University of Maine and donate directly from their IRA (check reinstated federal tax laws).
They do not pay any federal taxes on the withdrawal. The University of Maine Foundation can set their endowment up so that they can add to it yearly and build on it.
The university gave us a good start in life, and an endowment to help, no matter how small, will be, I'm sure, appreciated.
For more helpful information, contact Daniel Williams, planned giving officer at the University of Maine Foundation, at 253-5172 or 1-800-982-8503.
Frederick L. Denico