Speakers at Portland vigil call for gun control

Troy R. Bennett/Bangor Daily News

Concerned citizens hold candles at a vigil in Portland's Monument Square on Sunday night. The vigil was organized by Maine Citizens Against Handgun Violence in response to the Connecticut school shooting Friday

PORTLAND — More than 100 people braved the arrival of Portland’s first winter snow storm Sunday night to gather in solidarity with grieving families in Newtown, Conn., and in support of stiffer gun control laws.

The organization Maine Citizens Against Handgun Violence held a vigil in Monument Square on Sunday, one day after similar gatherings took place in Rockland and multiple other locations across the country.

Friday morning’s horrific mass shooting in Newtown — where 20-year-old Adam Lanza killed 20 6- and 7-year-old children, seven adults and himself — has reinvigorated debate nationwide about gun control.

In Portland, Mayor Michael Brennan was among many Sunday to express frustration with what he described as political stagnation on the issue of stronger restrictions on gun ownership. Brennan noted that high profile mass shootings over the last two years in Arizona, Colorado, Wisconsin and Oregon, among others, were not enough to motivate policy makers to act in advance of Friday’s Connecticut tragedy.

The mayor lamented that Congress allowed an assault weapons ban to expire in 2004 without renewal, and said laws passed by the Maine Legislature in recent years to allow individuals to bring concealed weapons onto the grounds of their workplaces and state parks were “a step backward.”

“Let’s not be here a year from now after another tragedy without having done anything,” Brennan said, adding, “People do not need an assault rifle to hunt or protect themselves.”

Maine Citizens Against Handgun Violence board chairman Tom Franklin said Portland has a lot in common with Newtown, including a relatively low crime rate, and that Maine’s largest city is “vulnerable.”

Franklin called for state legislation requiring background checks for individuals buying firearms through gun shows or classifieds magazines, like the popular Uncle Henry’s. He said Mainers must summon up their well-known independent streak and push gun control laws forward against the wishes of powerful gun advocacy groups, such as the National Rifle Association.

“Maine just might be the first state to stand up to the NRA, to say that protecting our children will not be subordinate to fetishism or the pretenses of self defense,” Franklin said. “Maine can show the nation that grief can be turned into action. … We can change frustration into progress and leadership.”

Emmanuel Caulk, superintendent of the Portland Public Schools, urged parents to hug their children, reassure them and answer their questions in the aftermath of the Connecticut shootings.

Caulk, who became emotional when he spoke, said the attack “violated us all.”

“This act has really shaken the core and fabric of our schools,” he said, adding, “It is unimaginable to think as we went about our normal routines Friday morning, this tragedy struck our neighbors in Newtown, Conn.”

Others speaking Sunday in Portland included William Harwood, chairman of the national Brady Center to End Gun Violence, and Rev. Jill Saxby, executive director of the Maine Council of Churches. Portland city councilor and Maine Citizens Against Handgun Violence board member Ed Suslovic read the names and ages of the people killed at the Connecticut school.

The crowd of about 100 at the vigil, in which people shielded candles from the wind and snow with gloved hands, included city councilor David Marshall, as well as state Reps. Mark Dion and Ben Chipman, among many others.

While the NRA has been silent since the shooting, issuing no public comment and reportedly canceling a Friday promotion with country music star Colt Ford, other gun rights advocates across the nation have bristled at the notion that the mass murder could have been avoided with tougher gun laws.

Larry Pratt, executive director of Gun Owners of America, said that had teachers and administrators at the Connecticut school been armed, they could have defended themselves against the intruder Friday. Pratt was among many firearm advocates in the country to say the tragedy should motivate policy makers to ensure guns are more readily available to law abiding citizens, so that they can better ward off criminals like Lanza.

“In addition to the gunman, blood is on the hands of members of Congress and the Connecticut legislators who voted to ban guns from all schools in Connecticut — and most other states,” Pratt wrote in a statement posted on the organization website, in part. “They are the ones who made it illegal to defend oneself with a gun in a school when that is the only effective way of resisting a gunman.”

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Amedeo Lauria's picture

Beware a "knee-jerk" reaction...

to this tragic incident. This is a time for our country to provide caring support and empathy to those who lost love ones in what should be the most joyous time of the year; not to further political agendas.

As expected, members of the media are in a feeding frenzy, interviewing anyone they can get their hands on to get an “exclusive” interview instead of letting the healing process run its course and the authorities piece together why this horrible event took place; so we can learn from it and try to prevent them in the future if possible. As with any event of this type, erroneous information is being disseminated, in an effort to be the first to report, that will live on longer than the truth; once determined.

As expected, our politicians are jockeying for position in front of the camera, proposing this law and that law without even knowing all the details of why and how this tragedy happened.

As a retired teacher, my heart goes out to all those at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut, we had children lose their lives at our school and it was hard enough to bear the grief without the media breathing down asking the same questions over and over and over.

Most concerning are the calls to cancel or curtail our collective rights under the 2nd Amendment to our US Constitution, and these calls should be very concerning to the majority of honest and rational Americans whether you decide own a firearm or not.

There are a myriad of reasons why this horrible event happened, and there are certainly no simple fixes, but the most dangerous, as put forth by some in this column, are the taking of the rights of the majority protected by our constitution in reaction to the horrific actions of one individual.

We will now possibly spend billions of dollars on security systems, resource officers, etc. The money that should be spent to educate our children, will now, if some have their way, be diverted. We will not fix this problem by turning our schools into restricted areas. We need to just look at our post 9-11 mentality where we stood up a new federal agency (TSA), an agency that searches diapers of babies as well as pat downs grandmas and grandpas; all in the interest of political correctness gone wild.

Let us morn these innocents who have lost their lives, support our fellow Americans who are dealing with the aftermath, and take a reasoned and rational approach to prevention.

We should come together to do this reflection, my heart is heavy.

FRANK EARLEY's picture

What do we ban, and why do we ban it?????

All afternoon I've been hearing the same old argument over and over again. Ban Assault rifles, ban the large clips on Assault rifles. I can't say whether I agree with this logic or not, I have owned two "Bushmaster's" when I was younger. I have owned 9mm hand guns, as well. I own a 44 magnum, I used to spend a lot of time in a friends gravel pit target practicing with the 44. I don't carry it around, Its always properly stored under lock and key, but always available if I ever need it.
I try to be realistic when I weigh the pro's and con's of banning weapons. I feel that anything short of banning all fire arms, would be nothing more than a nice gesture. Everybody wants to ban assault rifles and the large ammunition clips that go with them. Why?, Why not ban 9mm Glocks, with they're ammo clips, You can have numerous clips and change them in seconds. No one is screaming for banning them. If I had two guy's in front of me, one had a 9mm, the other had a 223 Bushmaster, to be honest neither one would make me to happy. either one will kill you dead. They're saying now that the assault rifle does severe soft tissue damage, trust me my 44 leaves a little more than a scratch. I think it's time to stop arguing about which guns we're going to ban, or which ones we're not going to ban, we need to address the real problem, what ever that turns out to be.....

 's picture

guns

We dont have problems with guns we have problems with people. It actually boils down to HEART problems.The question we should be asking is why would another human being have such disregard for their own brothers and sisters. As long as this evil exists, we are helpless, because guns dont kill people. Other people kill people, and if not with guns, they will find other means. Solution is bring GOD back into the school and pray everyday for his guidence and protection from EVIL.
Or we ARM all teachers for protection.

CLAIRE GAMACHE's picture

God

For those of us who don't believe in living a life of suffering in the hope of a pain free hereafter, throwing this whole issue in God's lap is not a solution. Neither is saying I have guns and I don't shoot anybody so there's no problem and burying our heads in the sand. Some of us believe in individual responsibility and that includes gun ownership. It is not responsible to say it doesn't affect me so I don't care, and no solution solves everything so we do nothing and my second amendment rights are more important than public safety or people's children so we do nothing. Responsibility means coming up with concrete solutions to the problem and helping to implement them. Anyone who is saying this week that we don't have a problem must be a sociopath. Anyone who is saying we have thousands of gun laws and they are not helping should be wondering why and looking to fix the problem. When the Church was found to have a problem with pedophiles we did not say most of the clergy are not and look the other way nor did we accept the excuse that the reputation of the Church was more important, nor did we say "Boys will be boys". We made them fix it. The most worrisome thing for me is that the shooter came from a privileged home, and had caring parents. If there exists an effective treatment, I believe they would have provided it. I think this calls for a massive program to develop better mental health treatments in the line of the amount of resources devoted to cancer, heart and impotence research. As for arming teachers, having is gun for protection is only effective if you are willing to use it to kill someone. This mother was not protected and probably would not have shot her son even if she had had the opportunity. Many teachers would be reluctant to shoot a student and so would probably end up like the mother having their gun turned against them. It's time people stop worrying about protecting their rights and start worrying about how to protect the innocent and unarmed in their community.

Thank you for the point of

Thank you for the point of reasoning in trying to figure out "how to protect the innocent and unarmed in their community". Some will choose not to own a firearm that is fact. I think that people who are looking at the tragedies that involve infliction of harm on the innocent should receive validation and demand answers but it often results in statements involving taking away gun rights rather than addressing the underlining reason(s) of the incident. And with that comes the defense of those who want to protect their own Constitutional right to own a firearm. Their defense is valid as well. Then you also point out the need to reaccess what is effective in our mental health system-that by far is the most powerful statement I've seen so far with this most recent tragedy involving the most precious and innocent among us.

In a recent Criminal Justice and Public Policy publication and course that I had completed, the message that pulls everything together is the need to test programs for its effectiveness. There are many programs for this and that and much funding goes into this and that but rarely is there a way to test for effectiveness. I've worked in various programs in the past that, in my opinion, I don't understand how they continue receiving federal funding. They don't seem to fulfill a purpose. And then I saw other programs that did not receive funding that should have received funding. The message in that publication continues with my paraphrased statement , that we shouldn't attempt to set up yet more new programming for this or that until we've assessed our present programming for its need and for its effectiveness. Eliminate what doesn't work and enrich what does work. Until we do that, the vicious cycle will continue.

One quote that is being widely circulated on a social website, "2,500,000 times per year, firearms are used to SAVE lives. Source: Dept. of Justice." This tells me that the answer isn't simply to impose tougher gun laws. The tragedy tells me that a troubled person needed something other than his parent to help him through the turmoil he'd obviously been experiencing. It isn't as simple as this I do realize but sometimes we have to tell ourselves that we are not qualified to help the troubled person and refer to someone who is qualified-and then that isn't always simple either, but it's a start. These questions warrant research and development in the mental health and criminal justice fields. We need to protect people and we need to protect rights that were put into place for a reason. During this time when our hearts are entrenched with the sadness of the families and those who are most directly affected, I hope that we can put the politics aside.

This is fact and is written in the Criminal Justice and Public Policy book mentioned above, that too many politicians and future candidates attempt to impose more fear and more reaction from those who don't research the facts and they use it for their next campaign and win the approval of the voters because that is what is weighing the heaviest on us citizens at the time while the vicious cycle of ineffectiveness continues.

I hope that our political leaders do heed the message to test programs for effectiveness and enhance what works!

PAUL ST JEAN's picture

The shooter's mother was the

The shooter's mother was the source for him having access to the guns with which to do the shooting. He stole them from her, which begs the question; "What's a 'well to do mom' doing with 5 guns in the house while therein resided a son who was known to have "issues"?

CLAIRE GAMACHE's picture

The mom

I think it is quite possible that she was blindsided by some new condition developing in her son. She remarked to a friend that she thought she was losing him indicating something was different. He had had issues for a long time that involved lack of sociability and eye contact but no one has come forth to say he had been cruel or violent. Given his age he could have been dealing with schizophrenia which often hits young people in their 20's when they are separating from their parents and doctors no longer report to parents about medical problems leaving them isolated and dealing with it on their own. This condition, left untreated, can make people violent. Or he could have had a sudden reaction to a medication. I don't think she would have taught him to shoot if she had been afraid of him.

PAUL ST JEAN's picture

You've presented a strong

You've presented a strong case as to why she should NOT have had 5 guns in the house.

David  Cote's picture

Claire

So "throwing this issue in God's lap" is not a solution to you? Answer this...If this punk that slaughtered those beautiful kids and brave teachers senselessly had thrown some of his issues into God's lap, do you not believe all those people would be alive today?

CLAIRE GAMACHE's picture

God again

I see this as an excuse to do nothing to prevent these tragedies from happening again. From the programs I have watched the churches were full in Newtown and there seemed to be a lot of them. I think God wants us to do our utmost to prevent suffering when we can not to turn our backs on it. While prayer has its place, I am not one who believes it replaces medecine and common sense caring.

CLAIRE GAMACHE's picture

The guns

I think that if gun enthusiasts do not become part of the solution instead of part of the problem they will end up with solutions they don't like. There is a lot they could do. For one thing they need to give in on laws requiring background checks and registration of gun sales. All gun sales including gun shows and internet sales and backyard sales should be registered and background checks should be made, under penalty of criminal prosecution, without exception. I agree with the NRA. The problem is not the gun. It's keeping the gun out of the hands of the crazy, the depressed, the irresponsible, the child and the criminal. Background checks would help a lot with the latter but not with the rest. We need to do a better job with mental health care. It's time this country listens to parents who are struggling with mentally ill kids and young adults, and domestic violence issues and get involved. Gun clubs and the NRA could be doing a lot more to educate people on gun safety and responsibility. If bars can take responsibility for drunks, gun enthusiasts can help with the irresponsible among them. They can also contribute to buy back programs in the cities. Weapons manufacturers and the NRA make a ton of money every time we get one of these mass massacres. They could share. Australia, not known for their socialist ways, solved their mass shooting problem. We could learn a lot from them. As for guns in school solving the problem. We had that in my school. It's not a bad idea but one of our armed officers decided to point her gun at an unruly class to settle them down. She was reassigned the next day. It's not the gun. It's the one holding it.

Mark Elliott's picture

Um...Austrailia did NOT solve

Um...Austrailia did NOT solve their problem........-> https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oyb3gBaqlwk

CLAIRE GAMACHE's picture

And one more thing

While the folks in Australia are complaining that criminals still have access to guns, they have seen a huge reduction in the number of suicides and family violence involving guns and they have not seen a corresponding increase in the number of assaults involving knives, baseball bats etc. The thing about guns is they are often a permanent solution to a temporary problem and you can inflict a huge amount of damage in 10 minutes.

CLAIRE GAMACHE's picture

My point

I guess this demonstrates what I was talking about. If people don't get involved with solving the problem they won't like the solutions. There has not been a mass shooting since the measures were enacted and that was the goal. The demonstrations involved a few thousand people. How many people were demonstrating on the other side?

FRANK EARLEY's picture

It was just a matter of time....

As Horrific, as this incredibly painful shooting was, I can't follow the logic in the cry for more "gun control". We have controls in place now, controls that in no way would have prevented this tragedy from happening. I heard someone say if he had smaller clips, then he wouldn't have been able to do as much harm. True, if the weapon jammed while changing clips, which "Bushmaster's" are known for, I've had two 223 caliber "Bushmasters", clip size is just something to add to the discussion. I do agree that maybe the "Flee Market" background check loop hole, might be a valid argument. At the end of the day, these things are still going to happen. I can't think of any law that could have actually prevented what happened. I wish someone could find a way to prevent people from doing these things, It's almost like an alcoholic, he may not be able to find clean cloths, he may be homeless, he may not have eaten in a week, but come hell or high water, he will find that next drink. Nothing legal or otherwise will stop him. It's the same with guns, all the gun laws in the world, won't stop the next delusional person from doing what their going to do. It's scary.......

David Marsters's picture

Matter of time

You are so correct in what you are saying. I had a friend that was a little off and all his guns were taken away. A week later he found one and killed himself on top of his father's. Why doesn't all these so called gun law advocates tell our government to stop sending high powered weapons to Mexico so they can use and kill our border patrol agents. Amen.

PAUL ST JEAN's picture

oBAMa regime is really

oBAMa regime is really rushing to clarify Operation Fast and Furious for us, aren't they?

David Marsters's picture

Father's grave! sorry

Father's grave! sorry

PAUL ST JEAN's picture

The only legislation that

The only legislation that will change this is to have laws banning wack jobs and people who would rather kill other people than live.

 's picture

Criminals and lawbreakers by

Criminals and lawbreakers by their very definition will not turn in their guns if guns were banned. For all the people that would like to live in such a utopia where the people are not allowed to own guns may I suggest you move to Chicago or Washington D.C. where those laws are in effect. Legal gun ownership by trained individuals equals less crime. that fact is indisputible. http://www.datamasher.org/mash-ups/crime-vs-gun-ownership#table-tab

PAUL ST JEAN's picture

Aren't Chicago's and D.C's

Aren't Chicago's and D.C's crime rates also among the highest in the nation?

Mark Elliott's picture

Why yes, yes they are Paul!

Why yes, yes they are Paul!

PAUL MATTSON's picture

Gun Free Zones are a major

Gun Free Zones are a major attraction for these deranged monsters.

 's picture

There are almost 20 thousand

There are almost 20 thousand gun laws on the books. What law would these people add that would have prevented this? Michigan repealed a lot of gun free zones Friday. That is a good start. In Michigan, you can now carry a gun on school property.

David Marsters's picture

Gun Control

I believe in the later part of story. If the teachers and school officials had been armed, this would not be so drastic. Maybe no killings except the intruder killed. There is laws on the books, but aren't enforced by our so called judges. Mass has had a law for years, that if you were in possession of gun elegallly mandatory 1 year in prison. There hasn't been more than 10 put in prison.

Mark Elliott's picture

Since Friday, cities and

Since Friday, cities and states all over are now considering allowing guns in schools............. Like Obama said, something must be done to stop these tragedies!

PAUL MATTSON's picture

Don't you think we ought to

Mark Elliott's picture

Oh wait....but aren't bombs

Oh wait....but aren't bombs already ileagal??

"Legislature in recent years to allow individuals to bring concealed weapons onto the grounds of their workplaces and state parks were “a step backward.”.....and just how is allowing law abiding citizens to defend themselves a "step backward"?? The young man that shot those children last week, stole the guns from his mom (illegal) forced his way into the school (illegal), committed mass murder (illegal), committed suicide (illegal)........if the guns were also illegal, would it have made a difference??

China, where guns ARE illegal had there own tragedy the very same day....using a knife. 22 children stabbed.

More people are killed in this country by "medical error" than by handguns.............where's the outrage?

PAUL ST JEAN's picture

We should ban cars,

We should ban cars, cigarettes and alcohol. They kill people all the time.

Mark Elliott's picture

We banned alcohol once and

We banned alcohol once and what happened?? The same thing that happened when Austrailia banned firearms!

PAUL ST JEAN's picture

"We banned alcohol once and

"We banned alcohol once and what happened?"
Joe Kennedy made a fortune.

Mark Elliott's picture

Cars are used in more murders

Cars are used in more murders than guns. Hell, so are baseball bats! So we should not allow anyone to drive to the game!??

RONALD RIML's picture

How many 'Murders' committed with cars??

Not homicides...

Murders.

There's a distinct difference, Ace.

Steve  Dosh's picture

Speakers at Portland vigil call for gun control

all 12.16.12 20:20 HST ?
. ...You've heard me say it B 4. . .186,000,000 guns , 300,000,000 people . When is enough , enough ?
The thing these mass murders have in common is guns , hatred , and violence . The British are not coming any more , gun freaks
Remember Jim Brady ?
We support the right to arm bears . More people get killed here in these U S of A in one day than one year in Japan by gun violence . Civilization ? It's total - i n s a n i t y -
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Brady_Handgun_Violence_Prevention_Act
/s Steve , FSO ( ret.) & shot at once in Guatemala as your counter - narcotics officer . ..

PAUL ST JEAN's picture

If your numbers are correct,

If your numbers are correct, Steve, that's 114,000,000 citizens that are unarmed and therefore unprotected; far too many.
What these mass murders have in common is deranged wack jobs with guns in their hands.
Total insanity? Guns don't go insane, Steve; people do.

Mark Elliott's picture

I thought Steve was a

I thought Steve was a doctor?? Shouldn't he know this?

PAUL ST JEAN's picture

Don't know what his doctorate

Don't know what his doctorate is in. I know he's fluent in 5 languages. But hell, being an adult and possessing common sense would qualify him to know this stuff. But, he's a liberal and clarity of the obvious is not often their strong suit.

PAUL MATTSON's picture

Jim Brady was shot with a .22

Jim Brady was shot with a .22 revolver like the one I learned how to shoot at the age of 5.

 's picture

Yeah

That freaks me out a little bit.

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