Outdoors: Collins' response on gun rights

It is not often that I take the time to write to a politician in Washington, especially in these uncertain days for heartland America. But I believe that the potential gun grab — given the tenor of the times and the hubris of this President — represents the greatest threat ever to our Second Amendment rights.

Out of fear and frustration, I penned a letter to Sen. Susan Collins, urging her to take up the cause to fight this assault from the media and the Beltway upon our right to bear arms.

My hope is that she, unlike so many of her Senate colleagues, understands that although I am a hunter, this Second Amendment crisis has nothing to to do with my hunting heritage. It has to do with my Constitutional right to possess a firearm — any kind of firearm— to protect myself and my family from deranged sociopaths, desperate drug addicts or even a tyrannical government. Collins' letter was thoughtful, and provides a ray of hope, perhaps.

Her words:

Dear Mr. Reynolds:

Thank you for contacting me with your concerns regarding the debate over gun control measures. I appreciate your taking the time to do so.

There are many proposals being discussed at the federal level, including expanded background checks, a ban on large-capacity magazines, and a prohibition on military-style “assault” weapons. I understand your concerns with the proposals offered by the President and Senator Feinstein. On Jan. 24, Senator Feinstein introduced her legislative ban on military-style weapons which President Obama also supports. This legislation appears to be far broader than the 1994 “assault” weapons ban, and it appears to place onerous requirements on gun owners, including new background checks of existing owners of military-style weapons.

Responsible gun ownership is part of the heritage of many families in Maine. In fact, Maine has one of the highest rates of gun ownership yet the lowest rate of violent crime in the country. While our country should examine what can be done to help prevent gun violence, denying the Second Amendment rights of law-abiding citizens won’t change the behavior of those intent on using firearms for criminal purposes.

We need to have a national conversation about ways to avert another devastating mass murder, as well as discuss reasonable ideas about preventing violence. The root causes of violence in our country are complex, and if we are to take an effective approach, then we must be comprehensive in our analysis. On Jan. 16th, President Obama announced his plan to address gun violence, much of which was derived from Vice President Biden’s taskforce. I am disappointed that the President’s proposals did not include a National Commission on Violence that I had recommended along with several of my colleagues on both sides of the aisle. This commission would have closely examined all the issues around mass violence, specifically looking at the role of mental illness and violence in the media.

We must examine, among other issues, whether states are reporting data on mentally ill individuals found to be a danger to themselves or others to the national background check system designed to prevent gun purchases by such individuals. As was the case in the Connecticut, Colorado, and Arizona shootings, mental illness is a salient factor in many of these tragedies. The national dialogue should evaluate how we as a society can better identify and care for troubled individuals who pose a threat to themselves and others. We must also take a deeper look at the possible role played by the glorification of violence in our media and video games while at the same time respecting First Amendment rights.

I also believe that Congress should examine school safety. You may be interested to know that I am the lead Republican cosponsor of S. 146, the School Safety Enhancement Act. This legislation would provide matching grants to help cover the cost of security measures in schools including metal detectors, training for students, teachers, and administrators, and coordination with local law enforcement.

Thank you for contacting me on this important matter. I will keep your views in mind as the Senate addresses the President’s recommendations, and other proposals relating to firearms and violent crime in this country.

Sincerely,

Susan M. Collins

United States Senator

If you wish to write or telephone Sen. Collins, her email address is senator_collins@exchange.senate.gov. Her office telephone number is (202) 224 2523.

V. Paul Reynolds is editor of the Northwoods Sporting Journal. He is also a Maine Guide, co-host of a weekly radio program "Maine Outdoors" heard Sundays at 7 p.m. on The Voice of Maine News-Talk Network (WVOM-FM 103.9, WQVM-FM 101.3) and former information officer for the Maine Dept. of Fish and Wildlife. His e-mail address is paul@sportingjournal.com and his new book is "A Maine Deer Hunter's Logbook."

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 's picture

You've been brainwashed...

...by the NRA, Paul. It's not gun control. It's the regulation of a military weapon and it's extended magazines in the hands of civilians. That's all. I hope you get a 12-pointer next fall - fill your vest with woodcock and grouse - have fun teaching kids target shooting. That's all well and good. The Second Amendment is NOT be assaulted. It doesn't even enter the picture. Weapons can be regulated. Regulation of one type of military weapon. That's it. Relax.

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