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Maine physicians rally in Lewiston Sunday to demand action to reduce gun violence

Maine health providers rally against gun violence in Lewiston on Sunday.
Patty Wight
/
Maine Public
Maine health providers rally against gun violence in Lewiston on Sunday.

Galvanized by the mass shootings in Lewiston, more than 100 physicians and other health care providers rallied in Lewiston Sunday afternoon to demand action to reduce gun violence. They say they're outraged that in the U.S., the right to bear arms is favored over life.

"Should we allow extremists who want zero regulations on weapons designed to take lives quickly and efficiently to continue to control the narrative on gun safety?" Dr. Joe Anderson, advocacy chair for the Maine chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics, asked the crowd.

"No," they replied.

The group — Maine Providers for Gun Safety — is calling for a public health response to gun violence. Firearms are now the leading cause of death in children ages 1-19. And in Maine, the vast majority of firearms deaths are by suicide. Kasey Moss, a family psychiatrist who grew up in Auburn, says it's a public health emergency.

"What is breaking my heart is that there is one, very concrete evidence-way we could save lives and end so much suffering, and that is with commonsense gun laws," she says.

During the last legislative session, bills that would have banned bump stocks and required universal background checks and waiting periods passed the Maine House but failed to garner enough support in the Senate. The group is calling on state lawmakers and Gov. Janet Mills to support these measures and others, including a red flag law and a ban on assault-style weapons.

They're also urging Maine's congressional delegation to take a unified front to enact gun safety policies at the federal level.

Several physicians urged in their speeches for Maine to live up to its motto of Dirigo, and lead the nation in enacting gun safety laws.