Sunday, March 9, 2014
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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
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