Thank you for your recent editorial describing gun violence as a disease needing a public health approach, and calling for an end to the ill-advised limits on research into its causes and patterns (“Gun violence demands public health approach,” June 19). As a public health professional, I absolutely agree.

However, we cannot wait for more research and data to take action. There is no question that people with guns may choose to use those guns to kill other people. We’ve seen too many tragedies, in our state and in our country. As a society we have two policy options readily available to us now that can significantly help to reduce the devastation caused by gun violence, whether related to individuals who are mentally ill or who are identified as terrorists.

In Maine, we can vote in November for universal background checks for gun sales, proven to reduce the numbers of deaths related to domestic violence, attacks on law enforcement officers, and suicides. On the national level, we must urge our representatives in Congress to support and advocate with their colleagues not only for effective background checks, but also for a ban on the purchase by individuals of military-style assault weapons. As your editorial states, most Americans are already prevented from owning fully automatic guns, and that prohibition should be extended to semi-automatic, high-capacity weapons as well.

Thoughts and prayers may comfort the living. The dead — children in a Connecticut school, movie-goers in Colorado, night-club party-goers in Orlando, or victims of domestic violence in Maine — demand action. We owe their memories no less.

Judith Feinstein


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