By Laurent F. Gilbert, Sr.
I write in response to Lewiston Mayor Bob Macdonald’s column of August 1, entitled “Mayors Against Illegal Guns goes overboard, loses credibility.” If that was Macdonald’s way of baiting me to respond, well, I’m biting.
I have never responded to his columns, although I’ve bitten my tongue repeatedly and chosen not to respond. I figured I would let him write unabated out of respect for the office, unlike he who would repeatedly criticize my weekly columns when I was mayor.
Macdonald criticized Mayors Against Illegal Guns (MAIG) and one of its co-founders, Mayor Michael Bloomberg. I joined MAIG when there were only 150 and now there are 1,000 member mayors.
Macdonald writes: “But, like all groups filled with arrogant, pompous people that think they know better than the average person when it comes to running your life, they eventually go overboard, lose credibility and fall apart. So it is with MAIG.”
Ninety percent of Americans support background checks on gun sales; 89.6% of Mainers do as well. My question is what part of this does Mayor Macdonald not understand with his criticism of MAIG and similar groups?
He continues: “Their egotistic, Nanny-state mentality, along with their out-of-control arrogance is now causing many group members to reassess their membership.” Worry not, MAIG is alive, well and growing!
The first responsibility of elected officials is to protect their citizenry. So, most mayors take their responsibility seriously, as I did as Mayor of Lewiston and MAIG member.
MAIG supports protecting the Second Amendment, while supporting good, common-sense legislation.
Senators Mitchell and Cohen supported the Brady Bill. Mayor Macdonald, were they wrong?
I served on the Board of Directors of Maine Citizens Against Handgun Violence. Former Chief Bill Welch also served on that board. Were the two of us wrong?
As co-chair of the Coalition for a Safer Maine: No More Newtowns, myself and former U.S. Attorney Paula Silsby advocated for a background-check bill to keep guns out of the hands of criminals and those adjudicated to be mentally ill. The watered-down bill passed both houses, only to be vetoed by Mayor Macdonald’s idol, Governor LePage.
Senators Collins and King supported universal background checks on all gun sales. Congresswoman Pingree stated her support for such a bill, and Congressman Michaud, who holds an NRA rating of “A-”, came around to supporting such a bill. Eliot Cutler, candidate for governor, also supports this legislation. Are they all wrong, Mr. Mayor?
Can you imagine, even those on the “no fly list” can legally buy a gun. Does this make any kind of sense? To Mayor Macdonald, maybe it does.
Ironically, the same day as Macdonald’s column was published, I received a hand-written note from Astronaut Commander (Capt.) Mark Kelly, the husband of former Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords, who was gunned down in Tucson, thanking me for participating in Portland in a rally with them and some of the parents of the children killed in Newtown, Conn. Kelly and Giffords head the organization Americans for Responsible Solutions.
I have seen firsthand Jim Brady, who is maimed for life, and Gabrielle Giffords, still suffering from her gunshot wounds, and talked with Mark and Jackie Barden and Nicole Hockley, suffering parents of six-year-old boys killed in the Connecticut massacre with the assailant’s use of 30-round clips. All of them feel great pain daily. I wonder if Mayor Macdonald could speak to them face to face with his arrogant remarks about organizations that they are a part of or that support them, like MAIG.
Nicole Hockley showed me the picture of her little boy with a big smile and wearing his Superman T-shirt. It is the photo she looks at first thing in the morning and last thing at night. When you hug these people, you can in some small way feel their pain, which causes you to want to appreciate the fact that they fight so that others will not have to meet the same fate that they have.
I think Mayor Bob Macdonald owes them one big apology.
Laurent F. “Larry” Gilbert, Sr. is a former mayor of Lewiston.