Every year in the United States, there are an estimated 500,000 to 3 million defensive firearms uses. Compare that to the 300,000 offensive uses by criminals, and we can begin to understand why some Americans feel so strongly about preserving the Second Amendment. By and large, guns protect America; they do more good than bad. Private citizens having the right to defend themselves is a freedom that should be cherished, not looked down on with contempt or disdain.

However, in today’s trying political times it is not hard to understand why so many view gun control as a necessary evil. Reflecting on our nation’s stunningly high rate of violent gun deaths (in other words, not from war, accidents or self-harm), one thing is clear: There is no good reason why someone with a history of violent crime or severe mental illness should be able to easily and legally obtain a deadly weapon.

When we consider that almost half of the firearms used to carry out violent crimes are obtained through legal means, it only adds salt to the wound. We do not allow people with multiple drunken-driving convictions to keep their driver’s licenses – why should our gun laws be any different?

In light of recent events, it is important that Americans are ready to go beyond tradition and partisanship to take action when it is needed. Without compromise on background checks, Maine will only be contributing to the tribalism that has overtaken Washington, D.C., and divided our nation severely. Today we must reach across the aisle, working together to preserve our rights while also vowing never to mistake anarchy for freedom or despotism for security. Treading carefully, but never allowing ourselves to be tread on. One nation, indivisible.

Jack Salamone

South Portland

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