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Editorial: Compassion and understanding required to strengthen gun debate

By Staff

As of Oct. 15, 2015 the state of Maine no longer requires a permit to conceal carry.

Sponsored by Senator Eric Brakey, a Republican from Auburn, the legislation eliminating altering the previous permit requirement has garnered an unprecedented amount of national attention. Its implementation just two weeks ago has inspired passionate debate between two equally ardent sides: those appalled by the decision, and those galvanized by the steps the government in Augusta has taken toward a more open interpretation of gun rights in the United States.

Opponents have long argued that the introduction of looser gun laws will only serve to exacerbate the problem, fearing that saturating the market with armaments will put them in the hands of more persons looking to do harm. They advocate for a restructuring of regulations that would make it more time-consuming and difficult for citizens to purchase these weapons, and nearly impossible for those who have a violent criminal background.

Proponents, conversely, see it as an issue of both personal liberty and personal safety. They seek to protect the innocent through the arming of the righteous, arguing that criminals will always find a way to acquire the means to their end. They work to make the acquisition of arms easier for average citizens, in an effort to balance out these concerns and their desire to protect their own constitutionally-guaranteed rights.

However, both sides share one deeply troubling commonality — the vastly inappropriate nature of their hyperbolic rhetoric.

The gun debate has long been stagnant, stuck in the exchange of petty insults and childish name-calling. Both opponents and proponents find common ground in the slinging of mud and the passive aggressive give-and-take of snappy sound bites on late-night news shows. Progress has been limited, legislation implemented only to be swiftly repealed, and threats made more popular than honest debate.

The gun dispute needs to be argued more articulately and compassionately than it ever has been. Change is rarely something that can be forced in either direction without worrisome consequences, and alienating those who may, reasonably, be persuaded to take your perspective is both bad strategy and bad sportsmanship.

Discussing something as serious as guns with anything less than complete seriousness is irresponsible to those whose lives both sides are trying to protect. If the issue is truly as pressing as these groups profess it to be, treating it as a political mechanism to garner support for oneself and hatred for one’s opponents is deeply dangerous, and deeply selfish.

Lives, no matter which side you may be from, are not a political tool.

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