The parents of the Oakland boy apparently accidentally killed recently do not now need lectures on how they might have done things better or differently (“Police: 8-year-old Oakland boy died of gunshot wound to head,” July 25). Our hearts go out to them.

Yet this youngster’s death has a public context, and some basics perhaps need to be observed.

What sort of climate is created when NRA-inspired uncompromising assertions of “gun rights” are a primary emphasis, and the dangers of having guns in the home, particularly when kept in other than wholly safe circumstances, are less regarded? It is no secret that having guns on hand makes more likely accidents like the one in Oakland, as well as suicides and murders rooted in domestic violence.

What are the implications of overstating the likelihood of home invasions, especially in our relatively safe part of Maine? Or of exploiting the Supreme Court’s Heller decision to encourage guns in the home for self-defense, clearly for the purpose of building an absolutist case for supposed Second Amendment rights to the exclusion of all other considerations, including public safety?

What are the effects of romanticizing Maine’s “gun culture,” and portraying as attacks on our way of life such reasonable measures as universal background checks, restrictions on access to weapons and accessories useable for mass murder, and even research to aid gun safety?

We do not know the particulars of what led to a tragic death in Oakland. We do know that questions like those above should be asked, and that the NRA and its acolytes have much to answer for.

Ed McCarthy


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