In this file photo from 2021, tributes hang on the temporary fence surrounding the parking lot in front of a King Soopers grocery store in which 10 people died in a mass shooting in Boulder, Colo. Credit: David Zalubowski / AP

Letters submitted by BDN readers are verified by BDN Opinion Page staff. Send your letters to

Paul Auster, best known as a novelist, has written a short but compelling nonfiction work called “Bloodbath Nation.” It is about gun violence, about the loss of life from mass shootings and from gunplay on a daily basis in many cities. It is also about the impact on survivors and relatives, and on communities affected. And it is about guns as a political issue, and our national failure to deal with it.

The book is not one likely to be greeted enthusiastically in all of Maine. For our Second Amendment absolutists, that there are instances in Maine of one brother shooting another, of a child injured or killed because parents failed to secure a weapon, or of a disproportionate number of gun suicides in Maine apparently just means there is a price to be paid for upholding God-given and constitutional rights. As to what goes on in violence-ridden cities, that is their problem, not ours.

Well, maybe. I grew up with a somewhat different ethos, perhaps best expressed by John Donne when he said that “Any man’s death diminishes me.” Individual rights are not absolute. There are responsibilities as well, to other people, to our communities, both local and at a distance.

For too long Maine politicians, including our otherwise decent governor and our 2nd District congressman, have indulged the quasi-religion of gun rights. Along with too many other Mainers, our leaders have preferred not to challenge the fanatics’ orthodoxies. Enough, already.

Ed McCarthy