April 30, 2013

Letters to the editor: Laws' effect on violence will be limited

Bill Nemitz's reporting on Bob McAfee's medical grand rounds ("A physician tries to heal the violence," April 5) helps to spread the insightful views of Dr. McAfee regarding the public health epidemic of gun violence in this country.

click image to enlarge

The general manager of a San Francisco gun shop holds an HK USP 9 mm handgun. Addressing "the proliferation and increased lethality of guns" available in the United States is key to containing gun violence, a reader says.

2012 File Photo/The Associated Press

However, efforts to legislate new gun regulations are only a start to addressing this public health issue.

Universal background checks at the time of a gun purchase may prevent some felons from legally obtaining a gun, but will not prevent a felon from stealing and using a gun.

Improved mental health services may prevent some suicides by gunshot and prevent some mass shootings by depressed or otherwise mentally ill individuals, but even the best of mental health services will not reach all nor be effective for all at-risk individuals.

Limits on magazine capacity may prevent or limit some future mass killings, but because there are already so many high-capacity semi-automatic weapons in existence throughout the country, it is relatively easy for an individual intent on committing such an act to obtain one.

Restrictions on violent video games and movies may prevent some suggestible adolescents from committing a gun-related violent act, but the percentage of gun-related violent acts that can be directly attributed to the effect of violent entertainment media is actually quite small.

Outlawing assault-type weapons may eliminate some violent gun acts, but gun manufacturers have proven adept at altering their products to sidestep these restrictions.

If we as a country are serious about addressing the problem of gun violence, we need to realize that these measures, while appealing and achievable, are likely to have only a limited effect.

The above measures are a start and should indeed be implemented, but we should also begin to reverse the proliferation and increased lethality of guns that have been the trend in this country for the past 40 years.

Marc Miller

South Freeport

Vote for Cutler could cinch LePage's re-election bid

I just don't get it. Maybe it's my advanced age, but I don't really think that would explain it all.

The "it" here is the conundrum we have in Maine:

1. We voters (most, anyway) helped re-elect President Obama and 2. voted such that Maine has a Democratic majority again in both houses of the state Legislature.

Yet polls show that Paul LePage would be likely to prevail in the next gubernatorial contest ("Poll: LePage wins several 3-way race scenarios," April 3) -- at least if Eliot Cutler runs again as an independent.

Can the tea party have gained that much political traction since November? I wonder. I truly hope not.

Honesty compels me to admit I actually voted for Mr. Cutler in 2010, changing my mind as I drove to the polls. It was a tough decision, but I decided that, sad to say, Libby Mitchell couldn't win. And she didn't.

Oddly enough, I feel somewhat responsible for the likes of our current governor moving into the Blaine House. Shame on me, I guess.

I do know I won't make that kind of mistake again. What I also know is that should Eliot Cutler run again and once more become a "spoiler," then we Mainers could be in for an ugly four more years of LePage's reign of error.

The amount of damage Paul LePage could do in a second term is something far too hideous and depressing to dwell on.

Bob Barter

Berwick

Amnesty bill would ensure needy in U.S. get even less

It is completely mind-boggling to me that a country with 20 million unemployed, 47 million on food stamps, 16 million children going to bed hungry and a middle class that's struggling and on the verge of total collapse would even consider another (No. 7) amnesty of 12 million to 30 million illegal immigrants.

Let me rephrase that: 12 million to 30 million-plus immigrants and their relatives.

We have been lied to and hustled since the 1986 amnesty, and this amnesty is no different. Has anyone considered how 12 million to 30 million mostly uneducated and low-wage earners who pay little or no income tax will affect our debt crisis and Obamacare?

Is it fair and compassionate to expect the elderly, disabled and poor in this country to share their "safety net" with 12 million to 30 million illegal immigrants?

The Gang of Eight's disastrous amnesty bill will be the final nail in the coffin for America's middle class.

Ann Roberts

Alfred

MaineCare bill would help poor develop stable lives

An important bill, impacting the health and welfare of our citizens, is being debated in the State House.

L.D. 1066, a bill co-sponsored by both Democrats and Republicans, would expand MaineCare as stipulated under the Affordable Care Act to include an additional 70,000 Mainers.

For the next three years, this expansion to MaineCare would be paid for exclusively with federal funds and would cost Maine taxpayers absolutely nothing. In fact, Rep. Linda F. Sanborn, D-Gorham, lead sponsor of L.D. 1066, citing a 2012 Kaiser study, estimates the expansion would save Mainers $690 million.

Insured patients would receive care in preventative health care settings rather than in more traumatic and expensive interventions administered in emergency rooms.

Maine has an annual income lower than the national average, and some of the highest health care delivery costs due to the high numbers of older and rural residents.

At 27 percent, Maine's percentage of citizens receiving Medicaid (MaineCare) is the third highest in the nation. As a state, we are in no position to turn down federal health care funds.

L.D. 1066 is not just about saving money, but about affecting the lives of real people.

As social work students, we have met many poor and homeless women who struggle with mental health issues and chronic medical conditions. Without health care, many of these women are unable to maintain their health and create enough stability in their lives to allow them to secure living-wage work and successfully move off of assistance.

Please urge your representatives to create sound policy and healthy citizens by supporting L.D. 1066.

Wendy Briggs

Arrowsic

Kiersten Mulcahy

Portland

University of New England School of Social Work, Portland

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