July 16, 2013

Letters to the editor: Further gun limits won't ease violence

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

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Ex-U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords listens July 6 at Portland City Hall as her husband, Mark Kelly, describes the day Giffords was shot in 2011. A reader disagrees with Kelly’s statement that gun registration won’t lead to more gun restrictions.

2013 File Photo/Gabe Souza

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


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.

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