FARMINGTON — A public forum to discuss whether changes in gun control laws will make people safer is planned for 7 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 7, at the University of Maine at Farmington's Lincoln Auditorium.
The public is invited to attend.
Following mass shootings, including Newtown Elementary School in Connecticut, the panel explores whether meaningful gun control in America is possible without compromising the Second Amendment protections provided by the U.S. Constitution.
The forum, sponsored by the Daily Bulldog and moderated by attorney Woody Hanstein, will explore if the changes proposed by President Barack Obama that call for more background checks, an assault weapons ban and a 10-round clip limit will help prevent further mass shootings or simply measures that will change little?
In Maine, many new gun control bills are expected to be introduced in the Legislature, including a proposal to arm teachers and other school employees with guns.
Because mental illness has been at the root of many of these recent shooting tragedies, organizers will also explore whether changes in mental health laws should be part of the solution.
Forum panelists include:
* Ethan Strimling, a former state senator and currently a political TV analyst, who has sponsored numerous bills to enhance gun safety in Maine;
* David Trahan, a former state representative and state senator, who is currently the executive director of the Sportsman's Alliance of Maine;
* Barry Sturk, a federally-licensed firearms dealer for 23 years and state lobbyist for firearms;
* J. Thomas Franklin, a retired lawyer and president of Maine Citizens Against Handgun Violence;
* Dr. Art Dingely, a psychiatrist who has worked in hospitals, clinics, forensic units and crisis teams and is a hunter of 53 years and a former member of the National Rifle Association; and
* State Rep. Lance Harvell, who has represented the District 89 towns of Farmington and Industry since 2009, and is a lifelong avid hunter and published author of a sportsman's book.