Rolling back gun safety

Should severely mentally ill people who are unable to manage their affairs, who receive Social Security because they can’t work, who are unable to drive a car and who are considered a danger to themselves be flagged in a background check before purchasing firearms? Think about it. With all this demand by Americans to feel safe, shouldn’t Americans would want severely impaired persons to be restricted from wielding weapons that could kill or maim them or their children in seconds?

A mentally ill man in Newtown, Connecticut, killed 20 children and seven adults. After that horrific tragedy, the Obama administration issued a rule that required the names of an estimated 75,000 severely mentally impaired persons so they could be flagged in a background check system before they purchased a firearm.

But as soon as President Donald Trump took office, the National Rifle Association pushed for this rule to be repealed. Rep. Bruce Poliquin joined the ranks with all but two House Republicans to repeal this public safety rule. The feeding frenzy in Congress is on, to undo the work of the Obama administration, regardless of whether the regulation is saving our lives.

Elizabeth Garber

Belfast

Travel ban wrong response to terror

After listening to issues around President Donald Trump’s executive order barring entry into the U.S. by citizens of several Middle Eastern and North African countries and reading Wayne Reilly’s Jan. 30 BDN column about the local debate over immigration 100 years ago, I took a brief look at several statistics.

Smoking is responsible to an estimated 480,000 deaths per year. Washington’s response is to subsidize the tobacco industry. Obesity is responsible for about 300,000 deaths per year. Negative comments were made about Michelle Obama when she encouraged Americans to have a healthy diet.

There were 13,485 deaths related to gun violence in 2015, up from 12,554 in 2014. Response: Expanded background checks are not necessary. Motor vehicle deaths numbered 35,092 in 2015. Response: Increase speed limits and make cars that go faster.

We have more than 3 million migrant workers in the United States making sure we have fresh produce on our tables. We should make them welcome, not put up a wall. Only 31 died from terrorism related-deaths in the U.S. in 2015. Response: Don’t let Muslims into the country, especially from countries where we have helped to destroyed their infrastructure over the past 25 years and take no responsibly for that destruction.

Jim Flavin

New Sweden

Hysteria over ‘travel ban’

The words “Muslim” and “ban” are incendiary. No wonder people are marching. President Donald Trump used them on the campaign trail, and he later softened his position. But the press won’t let it go.

Trump’s latest executive order is a 90-day travel pause from seven majority Muslim countries. These seven countries, out of all the Muslim-majority countries in the world, were identified by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security during the Obama administration as high terrorist risk. Trump’s purpose was to review screening procedures. Religion never should have been mentioned.

With initial confusion around green cards, the rollout was clumsy. So was the rollout of the Affordable Care Act.

Personally, I think former President Barack Obama’s screening procedures are sufficient. But Trump made a promise to voters, and he came through. A Rasmussen poll shows that 57 percent of likely voters agree with him. Other recent polls show similar results.

There are many valid reasons to dislike Trump, but to incite fear and hysteria among our Muslim population in order to humiliate the Trump administration is inexcusable. Trump’s priority was national security. And what priority drives his opponents?

Jonette Christian

Founder

Mainers for Sensible Immigration Policy

Holden

Obamacare taxes crippling

While we can debate the value of the Affordable Care Act, there is no debating that it has not lowered health care costs as promised. In the last two years, premiums for my company premiums have increased 32 percent, and even with those increases, the policies we have been offered have higher deductibles, co-pays and maximum out of pocket expenses.

On top of these cost increases, we are due to take another big jump in the cost of health insurance when a new health insurance tax goes into effect. This is essentially a federal sales tax on the cost of all health insurance plans and was one of the many hidden gems buried in the 906 pages of the Affordable Care Act. A bipartisan group of our elected officials voted to delay this tax for one year until 2018.

Somehow the writers of the Affordable Care Act thought insurance companies would just absorb this tax, not pass it along to the consumers. We all know that is not going to happen; the costs will get passed along to the employers who will pass the cost along to employees through higher contributions, lower benefits and lower wage increases.

The only other option for the business owner is to increases prices, which means the employees still foot the bill every time they buy something. The Affordable Care Act has already directly impacted my ability to add employees and increase wages. Unless this additional tax is permanently repealed it will only make it worse.

Dave Plowman

Hampden

How to place a harpsichord

Regarding Judy Harrison review of the recent Bangor Symphony Orchestra concert at the Collins Center for the Arts in Orono, we share her enthusiasm for the outstanding performances. But her comment about the “flawed” placement of the harpsichord needs some perspective.

It would only be appropriate to place the harpsichord in front of the orchestra if it had been a harpsichord concerto, such as those most notably by J.S. Bach. In this case, in a performance of George Frideric Handel’s “Water Music,” the role of the harpsichord was that of “continuo,” the standard Baroque practice of reinforcing the bass line and harmonic structure.

The instrument, in front of Maestro Lucas Richman, in the center of the orchestra, was exactly where it should have been.

Beth Brand

Orono