Metal detectors at the State House and four additional Capitol Security officers have been added recently to the cost of state government for more than a half-million dollars.

That half-million dollars could better be spent elsewhere.

Legislative leadership evidently is worried that they might come to harm at the hands of the Maine citizens who they have voluntarily been elected to represent.

A metal detector at the entrance to the parking lot where Gabrielle Giffords was wounded while talking to constituents would have stopped the gunman, wouldn’t it? And a former Maine legislator did brandish a firearm in Waterville.

The State House has four entrances, including one from the State Office Building, which also has four entrances. Maybe two of the four entrances to the State House have been locked, inconveniencing employees and visitors. People leaving the State House let others in through one of those entrances as they leave.

Legislators have clearly marked parking spaces, along with license plates that correspond with their districts. It is not difficult to identify an individual legislator in the parking lot or anywhere else. In fact, it is about as easy to regulate people entering the State House as it was to control the parking lot where Giffords and others were injured or killed.

Legislators should not be attacked, however, their risk of attack seems lower than that of the employees of the many businesses that have been robbed recently.

State government should be open and accessible to its citizens, so a balance must be struck between possible threats and the inconvenience to Maine’s citizens.

In this case, it comes down on the side of the citizens and spending that half-million dollars on funding for the Department of Health and Human Services or retiree cost-of-living increases as promised.

Anne P. Schaad


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