Be vigilant

With the increase in mass shootings in public places (aka soft targets), I would encourage everyone to make sure they know where the exits are. Make a mental note in regards to windows that could be used as an exit in an emergency. Be thinking in terms of “what if” and have some sort of escape plan. Don’t assume that the emergency exits are unlocked or are not blocked.

Last year, I was doing some security work at a local night club. I did a walk-around before the event to specifically check the emergency exits. The event was on the second floor. One of the emergency exit stairwells was full of junk and it would have been impossible for patrons to get out in a hurry. I went outside to check also and there was junk piled up just outside the door that would have prevented the door from opening. This is how people die.

If things look unsafe in an emergency scenario, you need to leave. If it appears to be overcrowded beyond the maximum of people allowed, you need to leave. If you have teens at home and they are going to an event, as a parent, you need to take some initiative and check things out for yourself.

David Winslow

Brewer

Tolerance not valued

The theme of conformity and deviation is a timeless one. The attic of history is rich in examples of the price that dissenters pay for their failure to conform to the established rules of life or the conditional requirements for acceptance in society. Those with unorthodox views of life have been ridiculed, shunned, ostracized, jailed, shot, garroted, exiled, declared enemies of the state, their press shut down, their churches torched, their property confiscated, etc.

The issue is magnified in a society that values the jewel of political freedom. With this freedom, there is no constitutional right not to be offended or guarantees that you must like a law or a point of view.

It is alway disturbing to see expressions of life that are not truly threatening to the life of others hobbled by rigid expectations for acceptance, but it is particularly disturbing to see dissent silenced because it is perceived as being un-American. For such authoritarian personalities, there are no contradictions in life, only the failure of others to see, know and conform to the truth. Words such as compromise and tolerance, so critical to the democratic process as we know it, do not appear to rank heavily in their scale of political values.

Charles Scontras

Cape Elizabeth

Poliquin’s lawsuit

It is unfortunate that Rep. Bruce Poliquin has chosen to sue over ranked-choice voting. He knew what the rules of the game were and decided to play. And now that he might lose, he wants to throw the game board on the ground, saying “unfair” just like a poorly socialized kid playing checkers.

Needless to say, Poliquin is emulating others in his party, including the president, who are similarly immature and cry “foul, fraud, unfair, fake news” when it looks like things don’t go their way.

The importance of voting and elections in this country is fundamental. It is truly sad that Poliquin is willing to join those who are willing to undermine faith in our elections for their own purposes. If he thinks this tactic of his enhances his reputation, he is mistaken.

Jim Owen

Belfast

Ban assault-style weapons

I reside in a town with a relatively new Cabela’s store, and I live in the state that is very proud to be the birthplace of the flagship L.L. Bean store. I am not a hunter nor a fishing enthusiast, but I do avidly enjoy hiking, backpacking, camping and other outdoor recreational activities. The extensive gear I’ve accumulated over the years bears both the Cabela’s and the L.L. Bean brand names.

I am gravely sickened by the gun violence and heartbreaking tragedies that have poured down on our culture and have plagued our children’s lives in our schools across the country. Additionally, I am disgusted by the NRA’s control over our elected officials (that favors Republicans and trashes Democrats) and their irresponsible, insensitive, cruel and selfish desire to boost gun sales at any expense. Even many of my close friends, who are avid hunting sportsmen, are repulsed by the NRA’s positions and actions.

Assault-type guns must be banned — period. Unlike the bold stance adopted by L.L. Bean, Cabela’s continues to feature and sell assault weapons. Please know that I will no longer purchase anything from Cabela’s or Bass Pro Shops, in store or online. I’m placing the safety of children and others before their assault-type rifles sales and profitability, and the longer drive to L.L. Bean in Freeport will be well worth it.

Denis Netto

Scarborough

Time to fulfill campaign promises

On behalf of the 230,000 AARP members in our state, AARP Maine congratulates Maine’s governor-elect, the senators and representatives who will serve in the 129th Legislature, and Maine’s federal elected officials who will represent us in Washington in 2019. While Maine has a strong record of voter turnout, this year’s midterm election season inspired record numbers of voters to make their voices heard at the polls and through absentee ballots.

With the elections now over, Mainers are eager to hear from those elected on how they will fulfill their campaign promises. How will our federal representatives protect Social Security and Medicare? How will our state legislators expand community services and supports so older Mainers can age in place? How will they enable rural communities to be better connected through improved transportation options and broadband? How can both federal and state officials work to lower the cost of skyrocketing prescription drugs upon which so many older Mainers rely?

These are just some of the concerns we heard about through our voter engagement initiatives this fall. In just a few weeks, the next legislative session will be underway, and AARP Maine welcomes the opportunity to work with the governor-elect and state and federal lawmakers on these critical issues.

Rich Livingston

Volunteer state president

AARP Maine

Biddeford

Correction

A letter about Bruce Poliquin originally included with these letters was not written by Cliff Snelgrove, it was part of Jim Owens’ letter.