Having been away in Washington, D.C., most of the past five weeks for medical and other reasons, it’s exasperating to see that the Maine Legislature has rejected several wholly reasonable gun safety proposals. That 12 people died in Virginia Beach because a deranged individual had access not just to high caliber weaponry but to silencers and high capacity magazines seems not to have registered with enough Maine legislators. Still less is it likely that lawmakers took cognizance of the multiple gun deaths occurring in cities like Washington and Chicago every day. But then we should not be surprised: If Columbine or Parkland or Sandy Hook did not persuade, a few more inner city deaths elsewhere are not apt to.

What accounts for this? Political cowardice certainly plays a role. That those who make our laws give less priority to saving lives than to indulging the benighted views and selfish preferences of even the least evolved of their local constituents is a sad fact of our political life; that does not make it any less an obscenity. A narrow-minded provincialism lies behind assertions of a “Maine culture” kowtowed to by politicians and which thwarts needed gun control legislation. If those elected cannot distinguish between the legitimacy of hunting and the excesses of “gun rights” obstructionism pursued by the National Rifle Association (NRA) and its satellites, Maine and our country are in a sorry state indeed.

This is a time for asking: which side are you on? You can choose the NRA, but know that that organization and its allies constitute a criminally irresponsible conspiracy against the public good. Every time decent gun safety measures are voted down, lawmakers hand the NRA a victory and demonstrate their own moral bankruptcy. Maine, and America, deserve better.

 

Ed McCarthy

Vienna


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