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Jacqueline A. Sartoris is the Cumberland County district attorney.
Together with the rest of Maine, our hearts are heavy at the Cumberland County district attorney’s office following the horrific events in Sagadahoc and Cumberland counties. In consultation with the attorney general, we have decided that prosecution of the events that occurred in our county will be handled entirely by his office to ensure consistency and the most efficient use of public resources.
Of necessity, the investigators will focus on motive as an essential part of their work in the days ahead. But policymakers and the public must focus on the means. Every nation experiences violence. Only our nation permits the lethality and opportunities afforded by guns.
America and Maine have a gun violence problem because our nation is saturated with guns. No motive will adequately explain an end to four lives in Bowdoin. No understanding of motive will mend the trauma of violence committed on Maine’s most traveled highway, violence that only a gun could deliver.
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Those who are mindful of America’s history, poor recent public policy and market-driven choices cannot be surprised by these events because they were entirely foreseeable. We have become a nation armed to cause harm and indelible trauma. We have allowed those who cynically profit from the political power and financial gain of the gun industry to shape the American experience. We have become a nation where homeowners shoot at the stranger at the door, felons easily access firearms, children plan to harm classmates and have the means to do so, a nation with more guns than people.
Maine people know this cannot continue. Maine people support common-sense gun laws and policies that protect the public and the police; police who must enter into every encounter as if a gun is present. This is madness, and Mainers know it.
While the investigators focus on motive, I urge the people of Cumberland County to focus on the means — get involved in efforts in Augusta and nationally to turn gun policy around. Contact a local chapter of Maine’s gun safety coalition and make our voices heard. Do not allow poor gun
policies to continue and leave this as yet another challenge for the next generation to solve.
My thoughts are with the victims of April 18’s gun violence. Let us not stop at thoughts, though, but also take action to prevent the future harm that access to guns will surely cause.