Oct. 9 — To the Editor:
Earlier this month, on the eve of the one-year anniversary of the horrific Las Vegas music festival shooting that killed 58 people and injured 900 more, I attended a Maine gubernatorial event at York High School featuring candidates Janet Mills, Terry Hayes, and Alan Caron. Candidates were on the stage with six well-prepared high school students, who asked great questions on a variety of topics, all relevant to Mainers and their quality of life.
Of the first three questions asked by students, two were about the candidates’ views on reducing gun violence in our state. Maine and New Hampshire both lag behind Connecticut, Vermont, Rhode Island, Massachusetts, New York, and New Jersey in legislation that protects students (and all of us) from gun violence. A 2016 attempt by the Maine state legislature to extend background checks to all gun sales (not just those taking place at a licensed gun dealer) failed. A 2018 attempt to create “Red Flag Bill” or “Extreme Risk Protection Order”, also failed. Governor LePage has shown no leadership on this issue, Thankfully, we have three gubernatorial candidates whom appear to favor stronger gun violence prevention measures.
Our students are on the forefront of nationwide recognition that we need to do more to stop the epidemic of gun violence. They are living with the fear that despite drills, resource officers and enhanced school security that someone who simply should not have access to a gun in the first place will wreak unspeakable carnage in their community. No wonder the students at York High School wanted to know how our next governor will reduce this threat.
It was notable that Shawn Moody, the fourth gubernatorial candidate, did not attend the event. Mr. Moody has no legislative experience and has gone on record as stating he doesn’t believe we need to make any changes to Maine’s gun laws. In fact, he stated that students faced with a shooter should simply use school fire extinguishers to fend off the shooter. There is simply too much at stake to risk the election of Shawn Moody.
I want to thank Ms. Mills, Ms. Hayes and Mr. Caron for their thoughtful answers to questions at the event, and, most importantly, for showing up. It is incumbent that our next governor takes the lead on ensuring Maine never joins the ranks of Las Vegas, Sandy Hook, Sutherland, Orlando, and so many other places where people thought “it will never happen here.”
Volunteer State Chapter Lead - Maine
Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America