M.D. Harmon finally wrote a commentary (June 15) with which I can agree, in part. We should regulate guns and cars alike because each is dangerous only if used irresponsibly by unqualified people.

I look forward to his editorial advocating for the licensing of gun owners, with licenses available only if all gun owners (not just hunters) pass safety courses, a period of conditional permitting and a minimum age for when the gun can be used without close supervision. Like vehicles, there should be different classes of gun licensing for different kinds of guns. For example, a class A gun license would permit you to operate an automatic weapon. Based upon an articulable suspicion (see State v. Collier, 2013 ME 44) police and wardens should be able to stop you and check you and your gun license, regardless of whether the carry is open or not. But with the proper license, you should be able to buy and use any gun.

Guns should be registered so that if one is misused, we can quickly trace its ownership. Guns should be regularly inspected and determined to have all necessary safety equipment. Use while under the influence should be prohibited, with sentences similar to those for drivers. There should be detailed, consistently enforced regulations on how, where and when guns are used.

And, of course, I’d still permit the gun equivalent of mud runs, so those that don’t want to use guns in the normal course can compete, endangering only themselves and the voluntary spectators.

Gun owners register cars and get driver’s licenses without opposition. Cars have been registered and used by licensed drivers without government confiscation or misuse of the information. I trust my state to regulate guns in an equally trustworthy fashion.

Steve Hayes


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