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Minority-owned Southern businesses get back on their feet post-pandemic with a fund's help; President Biden says don't panic over the new COVID variant; and eye doctors gauge the risk of dying from COVID.


U.S. Senate is back in session with a long holiday to-do list that includes avoiding a government shutdown; negotiations to revive the Iran Nuclear Deal resume; and Jack Dorsey resigns as CEO of Twitter.


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ME Lawmakers Urged to Make Gun Safety a Priority


Friday, June 4, 2021   

AUGUSTA, Maine -- Today is National Gun Violence Awareness Day, and gun-safety advocates in Maine are urging the Legislature to take up bills they hope would reduce the impact of gun violence on their constituents.

Geoff Bickford, executive director of the Maine Gun Safety Coalition, said Maine has relatively low rates of violent crime compared to the nation, but he noted accidental shootings and suicide deaths, especially among children and teens, are far too common.

His group works with pediatricians to educate Mainers on safe gun storage.

"We have extremely lax laws," Bickford asserted. "In fact, we're noted for almost an absolute lack of gun safety laws. We have no, absolutely no regulation on concealed carry."

One bill, called Darien's Law, would close what's known as the "gun show loophole," meaning it would require people who buy guns from private sellers to pass a background check.

Other legislation proposes regulations for safe storage of firearms in the presence of children, and would ban 3-D-printed guns and what are known as "ghost guns," untraceable weapons that people assemble at home.

Bickford added Maine has a higher death rate due to injury from firearms than other New England states, and the majority of gun deaths in Maine are suicides, 88%, according to the Educational Fund to Stop Gun Violence.

"We are demanding that our lawmakers, who are tasked first and foremost with protecting the Maine public and protecting Maine kids who cannot otherwise protect themselves, to pass these laws, and for the governor to sign them," Bickford urged.

Between 2010 and 2019, Maine's gun-death rate increased by 45%, and the firearm suicide rate went up nearly 40%. It's estimated nearly half of Maine adults are gun owners.

Bickford added his group doesn't want to ban guns outright, but to promote responsible ownership of firearms.

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