A false contrast between firearms as an economic engine versus a unique episode of violence (the mass shooting in Lewiston) was framed in the recent op-ed on firearm legislation in Maine (“Do not punish Mainers for Lewiston shooting”). It is convenient to overlook other tragedies (such as in Bowdoin and Maine’s higher-than-average suicide by gun rate) and revealing to see an economic argument for minimal oversight. A true financial comparison would include short- and long-term financial costs associated with the Lewiston shooting as well as other firearm-related incidents resulting in death or injury.

I don’t believe that the backbone of our small towns is, as the writer claims, defined by a single “outdoor industry.” We are defined by our commitment to both rights and responsibility that support flourishing life for all community members. Responsible gun owners I know are capable of discussion that doesn’t reduce Second Amendment rights to an all-or-nothing position. Widely differing perspectives have worked together before. We can do it again if we resist these broad-brush oversimplifications and work with facts and with the realities of our shared lives.

Do we really want our policy-making to weigh an inconvenience of “forcing thousands of Maine outdoor recreation businesses to adjust their plans for hunting season” more heavily than facts about mitigating harms that are not infrequent or hypothetical? In my decades as a small-town Maine pastor, I grieved with far too many families to ignore facts with faces.

The Rev. Dr. Karen L. Munson

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