Maine’s gun violence numbers don’t lie

Dear Editor:

In the March 22 edition of The Ellsworth American, Bob Chaplin of Bar Harbor made the case that “Maine needs gun control.” Jeff Milliken claimed that “An entire nation had agreed that its citizens were more valuable than their guns.”

I am writing in response to their letters. To Mr. Chaplin’s claim of needed gun control, I would ask, “Why?”

The FBI’s Uniform Crime Statistics are available for download every year from the Department of Justice; I do so. Here are some observations from the latest set that I have processed (2014). Maine has had the lowest per-capita assault rate in the nation for the period 2005-2014, and was 49th from 2000-2005. We were 48th in the nation in per-capita homicides in five of those years, and dead last in one other. Maine’s homicide rate never rose higher than 42nd place, and then only twice during that period. Our homicides by firearm have historically constituted 55 percent of the total, as opposed to 66 percent for the nation. Our murder rate per capita is lower than the homicide rate in federal and state prisons, surely a gun controller’s paradise if ever there was one. Given all these facts, why does Mr. Chaplin see a pressing need for gun control?

Mr. Milliken speaks of Great Britain’s gun control efforts post-massacre. It is true that Great Britain has disarmed its citizens almost completely. It is also true that assaults have risen sharply in the years since. Mr. Milliken seems to think that gun control is the answer; I would invite him to visit Mexico, where citizens are denied guns and ammunition, and where the vacationer from abroad can experience the charm of 10 of the 50 most violent and deadly cities on the planet. I’ve worked there, and in Brazil (17 cities in the top 50), and they are not nice places. The state has all the guns, except that they obviously don’t; is that what you want?

We live in one of the most universally armed, and safest, states in the nation; those circumstances are not unrelated.

Bruce A. Abbott


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