As I look at the newspaper photographs and read about the mostly young concertgoers killed in the massacre in Las Vegas, I wonder: How can we let this keep happening?

Two intensely personal experiences from my 42 years in Maine have helped shape my view of guns and my conviction that we need reasonable gun control.

In the 1970s I taught writing at Thomas College in Waterville, where several of my students wrote moving, lyrical essays about hunting with their fathers and uncles.

For many of these young men, hunting was a necessity – deer meat was part of their families’ winter provisions. But even where that wasn’t essential, it was clear to me – who had grown up far from a hunting culture – that family bonds and a respect for the environment were strengthened in those early mornings in the woods.

Later, in the 2000s, I worked as a hospice volunteer, where I facilitated groups for survivors of suicide: that is, for those bereft by the suicide of a family member or friend. Many of these deaths were by gunshot.

I particularly remember the anguished parents of a 12-year-old who had killed himself with a gun that he’d found in an unlocked gun cabinet, and the despairing son and daughter-in-law of a woman suffering from serious depression who had killed herself in her own home.

Somewhere, between these moments – the legitimate use of guns for hunting, and the too-easy access to guns by children and the mentally ill – there needs to be a solution. For me, that lies in sensible gun control measures. Whatever we discover about the motive of the murderer in Las Vegas will not change that need.

Susan Sterling