Opinion

‘Gun Day’ bills not necessary in Maine

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Friday, May 10 was “Gun Day” at the Legislature’s Criminal Justice and Public Safety Committee. On this day, the committee held public hearings on 11 firearm-related bills. Ten of the bills sought to restrict Second Amendment rights while one bill would expand them.

As a retired state trooper, I have tremendous respect for what a special place Maine is to live and raise a family. Here we enjoy a great amount of freedom, especially when it comes to the Second Amendment, and we are regularly ranked one of the safest places, if not the safest place, in the country.

Just last month, the Maine Economic Growth Council, which is a non-partisan group that meets annually to compile statistics dealing with our economy, community and environment to gauge the overall quality of life, released their 2019 report. The report highlights safety as a strong point, citing our crime rate which was just 16.3 per 1,000 residents in 2017. This rate was 40 percent lower than the national rate of 27.5.

In addition to being among the safest places in the country, Mainers also share a long tradition of responsible gun ownership for the purposes of hunting and self-protection.

While many of the more dangerous places around the country, like Chicago, New York City and Baltimore, have adopted restrictive gun control measures in an effort to curb violent crime, it is clear that, while disarming law-abiding citizens, these restrictive laws do nothing to prevent criminals from committing crimes. Further, when crimes are committed with firearms, criminals are not being prosecuted to the greatest extent of the law.

Imposing similar measures, backed by out-of-state special interests like Michael Bloomberg, has never made sense for our safe, rural state. There is no reason to project big-city problems and failed solutions on Maine citizens.

That’s why just a few years ago in 2016, Maine voters resoundingly said ‘No’ to Question 3, the so-called universal background check referendum that would have placed serious restrictions on Mainers’ right to bear arms.

We value personal freedoms here in Maine. That’s why in 1987 we amended the Maine Constitution to go even further than the United States Constitution, saying, “Every citizen has the right to keep and bear arms for the common defense; and this right shall never be questioned.”

A number of the firearm-related bills being considered by the Criminal Justice Committee take this right into question.

From imposing pointless waiting periods to purchase firearms to criminalizing standard-capacity magazines, these measures seek to restrict our rights and make criminals out of law-abiding Mainers in the name of “safety” without consideration of our status as the safest state in the country.

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