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.

(Continued on page 2)

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