In journalism, the best editorial practice ought to define for a readership the moral and ethical high ground of a particular issue. Then, using logic, truth and facts, lead readers to it. The recent lead editorial, “Lawyers, Guns and Money” (BDN, Nov. 21-22), following the BDN’s five-part series on guns in Maine, might have done that had it been more accurate and less shameful.
To begin with, the title was misleading. Where were the lawyers? Where was the money?
The inaccuracy continued: “For the first 100 years of the nation’s history the Constitution’s Second Amendment was generally understood as supporting the rights of states to keep militias.” I challenge anyone to find support for that statement in history.
What historical research will reveal, however, is ample evidence of the intent to preserve the right of citizens to keep and bear arms as a deterrent against the evolution of a new government as potentially oppressive and tyrannical as the one which they had so recently escaped.
It will also show the intent to arm a citizenry for their personal protection, as well as a means of securing food in a largely untamed wilderness.
Unfortunately, times have not greatly changed. A growing number of law-abiding American citizens, including those in Maine, are choosing to arm themselves against the predations of thugs which society ridiculously considers victims. And many families in Maine, and in other states, count on the protein from wild game that their firearms provide them.
But enough of the inaccuracy. What about the shame?
The shame lies in the apparent intent to find Maine people different from other Americans, to categorize them and, in doing so, to factionalize them. The shame lies in speaking of “gaps” and “camps,” rather than of a free and independent people and of their rights, their obligations and their responsibilities to themselves and to one another.
The shame lies in the failure to remind all who cross the bridge at Kittery and view the sign which reads “Maine, the Way Life Should Be,” that the Maine tradition is a proud one, a tradition which includes the private ownership and wise and lawful use of firearms.
The shame lies in the failure to warn those who come to Maine to try to change the tradition of Maine, in effect, bring with them to Maine the essence of what they came to Maine to escape.
Warren D. Southworth Sr., of Searsport is a Registered Maine Guide and an emeritus faculty member at Eastern Maine Community College.