Let’s Rethink This?

By Ashley Berry, Political Science Major

On Thursday, October 15th, the only form of gun control legislation that was in place in

Maine was thrown out the window. The 15th marked the first day of Maine’s “Constitutional”

Carry law. Previously, if someone wanted to carry a concealed weapon they would have to have

a permit issued by the police. To obtain the permit, the applicant would have to go through

several steps to make sure that they would be able to conduct themselves safely while armed.

Although no test is foolproof, this acted as a filter to oust those unstable enough to carry

guns. This test consisted of a background check, fingerprinting, and proof that the applicant

passed a gun safety course. There were also six pages of questions that asked about the history of

the applicant’s criminal charges, domestic abuse, drug use and mental health disorders.

Now anyone that is over the age of 21 is able to carry a concealed and loaded weapon on

themselves anywhere that is not an exempt carry zone. This includes places like the State House,

federal courthouses, and nearly all learning institutions. This means that every time you are at the

movies, driving down the street, or at the grocery store, you can know that the person next to you

enjoying the flick or buying their milk could be “packing heat.”

There is no way that this could possibly turn out well for us Mainers. Gun violence has

started to outpace automobile accidents as the number one killer in the United States. These laws

aren’t just more lenient – it makes them practically nonexistent. Of all the policies that need to be

passed and of all the issues that need to be addressed, this was the wrong one.

Proponents of this gun law say that people who are against it are panicking for nothing.

However, there are some very real life examples of people who have been or could have been

negatively affected by these lax gun control laws.

On Tuesday, just two days before the new law would go into effect, the Portland Police

responded to the Northgate Shopping Plaza in response to a tip that someone was threatening

other shoppers with a gun. The police arrested the man who was carrying a loaded .45-caliber

handgun. Although they could find no victims, witnesses said he was pointing the gun at a car

that drove off. The weapon had also been altered with fluorescent pink paint so as to look more

like a toy gun, indicating he wanted to deceive people as to what he was carrying. It seems safe

to assume that he did this with malicious intent.

This new law is not sitting well with others besides the Portland Police Department. A

ballot initiative was submitted to the Maine Secretary of State’s Office by Judi and Wayne

Richardson on behalf of Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense and on behalf of their daughter

Darien. They would need to collect 61,000 signatures from Maine residents to get on the

November 2016 ballot. The question would ask if Maine residents would support expanding the

criminal background check requirements. The proposed initiative ensures that the purchases of

guns in private and at gun shows would have to be purchased from a registered gun dealer who

could perform a background check through the federal system.

The Richardsons are so invested in this cause because back in 2010, their 25-year-old

daughter died from a blood clot that was the result of being shot several times when her Portland

apartment was broken into by masked men. The gun that she was shot with was then used to kill

another Portland man. The shooter in the latter case refused to say where he acquired the gun,

and because it was privately transferred, no background check had to be performed. Because of

the negligent lack of gun control measures, Darien lost her life and her murderer may never be

brought to justice. Once again, because no one seems to grasp this concept, the answer to gun

violence is NEVER going to be more guns. So yes, let’s rethink this law, so murders like

Darien’s cannot get away.

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One thought on “Let’s Rethink This?”

  1. Dear Ms. Berry,

    Your recent article,”In an era of School Violence, Where Does SMCC Stand?” has prompted me to ask you a question. Before I ask, I refer you to the article itself which states the alarming fact that there have been, on average, one school shooting a week in the U.S. since 2013. This statistic quantifies the outrage and sorrow so many Americans feel when we read about another school shooting. Your article references the SMCC weapons policy. This, in turn, caused me to review the SMCC Security Office policies and standards. According to the website, the security officers cannot make an arrest. They are not law enforcement officers. Therefore, I doubt that they armed. Apparently, the security officers would be required to summon assistance from other jurisdictions so serve as first responders in the case of an active shooter scenario as the clock is ticking. Most of the school shootings have occurred in a “gun free zone.”
    Ms. Berry, I don’t know you. But my concern is for your safety as well as every other student and teacher across America.
    After considering the facts listed in your article, do you still feel that campus security is being maintained by having unarmed security officers who cannot make arrests and by posting a sign that the campus is a gun free zone?
    Before you answer, I’ll say that we all hope that there will be a mechanism in place that will someday, somehow prevent a lunatic from creating carnage on a campus, but until that day I pray for our precious students and teachers.

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