March 9, 2013

Letters to the editor: Lawmakers must stand up for gun control

We were shocked when Congress allowed the 1994 ban on assault weapons to expire 10 years later. It seemed that our representatives were immune to the killings and mass killings that we saw in the news.

Neil Heslin
click image to enlarge

Neil Heslin, whose son Jesse was slain in Newtown, Conn., on Dec. 14, holds a photo of the two of them while testifying in favor of an assault weapons ban at a Feb. 27 Senate hearing. The Newtown tragedy makes it imperative that U.S. senators and representatives act to reduce gun violence, readers say.

2013 File Photo/The Associated Press

The killing continued, and finally the Newtown, Conn., massacre has brought many people to their senses -- even many members of the National Rifle Association.

We realize that owning firearms is a tradition in the United States and do not oppose ownership of traditional firearms used for hunting and target practice, such as rifles and even handguns.

We strongly oppose ownership of semi-automatic assault rifles and high-capacity magazines. These weapons facilitate mass killings. We also uphold background checks of all people attempting to purchase any firearm from any seller. Loopholes allowing gun sales without background checks -- at gun shows, for example -- make it easy for potential criminals or mentally unstable people to purchase them.

There are those who will argue that such laws will not be effective. That is a useless argument. It is unconscionable to do nothing -- to hope that the children killed in Newtown will quickly fade from the headlines -- to turn our backs on the next victims.

The United States is a civilized country. It is time we acted civilized.

We urge you to continue your coverage of this issue, and we urge our representatives here in Maine and in Washington, D.C., to vote to for a ban on assault rifles, to limit the capacity of magazines and to require background checks of all those who purchase firearms.

Al and Vicki Adams

Kennebunk

As a gun owner and hunter for more than 50 years, I am saddened and appalled at the National Rifle Association's use of the Second Amendment as an excuse for opposing sensible gun control.

Ignoring the evidence that guns do not make us safer and simultaneously promoting a sense of paranoia among its members make a mockery of the innocent people killed by guns every day in America.

As a practicing emergency physician, if I were to ignore evidence as compelling as what we see in our streets, I would be sued for malpractice. Please join me in encouraging our congressional delegation to support the current efforts to reduce gun violence.

Tony Owens, M.D.

Cape Elizabeth

South Portlanders urged to speak up against tar sands

Cities and towns in New England are mobilizing to express their opposition to the possible transport of tar sands through a reversed pipeline running from Montreal through Vermont, New Hampshire and Maine to Pier II in South Portland.

Many thoughtful people have taken the trouble to learn about this issue. And many people have concluded that tar sands are just too great a risk to our environment in many ways.

For our own backyard, sending tar sands through a 62-year-old pipeline invites the very real possibility of a spill of this abrasive and toxic substance in one or another our precious waterways along its route.

For the global environment, this is the dirtiest, most polluting form of oil on the planet.

We do not want to be complicit in dumping this into the world market. South Portland has a real opportunity to impact decisions about use of this pipeline.

The South Portland City Council is holding a public meeting Monday at 6 p.m. at the South Portland Community Center to discuss this issue. I, for one, plan to be there and hope that many concerned citizens will make their voices heard.

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