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It happened again. Unfathomable loss of innocent children and educators at an American school due to gun violence in Uvalde, Texas. In the aftermath of the horrific mass shooting at a supermarket in Buffalo, New York, everything is nearly impossible to process. Our hearts are broken – again.
Like us, you may be wondering what you can do to prevent something like this from happening in Maine. We are, after all, a source state for firearms. Maine has a above average rate possession of firearmswith about half of Maine adults reported living in a household with at least one gun. And we are in the midst of a post-pandemic mental health crisis where it can be difficult to access mental health services, especially for those living in more rural communities with fewer resources.
So, in this climate, what can we all do now to help prevent a tragedy like this from happening here?
We can be responsible gun owners. We can ensure firearms are stored safely in homes and businesses. We may use gun safes, trigger locks and ensure that guns are not easily accessible to anyone not authorized to possess them. We can care for loved ones, colleagues, neighbors and friends who may be struggling with mental illness or who appear to be in crisis. We can be alert and vigilant and take seriously anyone who expresses an intent to harm others, even if it’s just a text message or social media post. We can believe what someone says and alert the authorities. If we become aware of a case of domestic violence, we may report it to the police. You can refuse to give up a firearm to someone who is unstable or in crisis.
Maine’s law enforcement community is committed to keeping schools in the state safe through prevention, response, and enforcement work. We are committed to aggressively investigating and prosecuting gun violence statewide. We are committed to identifying people who need mental health resources and interventions and doing our part to help them get support.
We are committed to providing schools with the tools necessary to develop a standard protocol for responding to incidents of campus violence. This summer, the Maine School Safety Center will host the Maine School Safety Summit for school administrators and related stakeholders June 21-23 in Windham to provide best practices training to our school communities. Together, we will do everything we can to keep our students and educators safe.
As we return from Memorial Day weekend with family and friends, we think of those who tragically and senselessly had theirs taken away this month. And we ask everyone to join us in working to keep Maine safe.
Darcie N. McElwee is the United States Attorney for Maine. Aaron M. Frey is the Attorney General of Maine. Maeghan T. Maloney is district attorney for Kennebec and Somerset counties and president of the Maine Attorneys Association. Michael J. Sauschuck is the Commissioner of the Maine Department of Public Safety. Jared J. Mills is the chief of the Augusta Police Department and chairman of the Maine Chiefs of Police. Dale P. Lancaster is Sheriff of Somerset County and President of the Maine Sheriffs Association. Jonathan J. Shapiro is the director of the Maine School Safety Center.