In the wake of the Lewiston shootings, we have a golden opportunity to enact more adequate firearm safety laws. The gun lobby and extremist ideologues have placed an intolerable burden on Maine citizens by preventing reasonable regulation.

A father, I endured some anxious hours as my daughter in Lewiston waited out the lockdown. Our whole state was tied up in knots for days by the massacre. Another of my children is, sadly, genuinely afraid of a shooting at our high school. As a psychiatrist, I am painfully acquainted with firearm-related suicides and intimate partner murders. I think our current yellow flag law needs to be strengthened to a more effective extreme risk protection order, or red flag law. For whatever else they symbolize, firearms represent a major public health burden. And to those who say the key to greater safety is more guns – in schools, for instance – there is evidence that the “more guns” approach is ineffective.

I have faith, rather, that working together, all those who care about Maine, common sense, and the common good can find a way both to uphold our constitutional rights and to create a more effective framework of gun safety regulation.

If one of the purposes of government is to ensure domestic tranquility and you, too, are fed up with the inadequacy of our current gun safety laws, please contact our legislators to advocate for better. This is the time.

Harold Van Lonkhuyzen, MD

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