February 19, 2013

Maine Voices: Public can lead revolution in thinking about need to stop 'arms race'

Politicians won't act until they see a widespread shift in attitudes about the carnage caused by guns.

By Janice Cooper

(Continued from page 1)

The number of firearms in our state equals our population -- about 1.3 million.

  Half of our households have at least one weapon.

  Half our gun-related homicides were related to domestic violence.

  In Maine, 90 percent of violent deaths were suicides.

  More than half of those suicides were by firearms and were overwhelmingly by men.

  The rate of firearm suicide is much higher in rural areas, where weapons are more common.

The lessons I draw from these facts: Mainers use their firearms mostly to kill our loved ones and ourselves, impulsive acts that might not occur if such lethal means were not readily available.

In Maine, we already know how to change long-standing habits of the mind. Thanks to well-crafted public education campaigns, dramatic changes in attitudes about drunken driving, smoking and same-sex relationships occurred in a few short years.

Our politicians may not be able or willing to enact limits on the purchase of or access to weapons, but we can make our own revolution by starting to think differently about guns.

– Janice Cooper, a Democrat, represents Yarmouth in the Maine House of Representatives and was previously assistant counsel to the U.S. House Judiciary Committee.


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