Thursday, December 29, 2016

How Are We Supposed To Feel When A Right Wing Promoter Of Gun Irresponsibility Gets Shot By His Own Gun?

I have read and loathed M. D. Harmon for years, though I only read him when someone told me I should look at his awful column in the Portland Press Herald.  He was a right wing jerk and general blight on my state.   He was also a gun nut of the kind that are all too plentiful in Maine.

So, I can't claim that I'm exactly broken up to read this story about how he died:

Police say the 71-year-old Harmon died at his home on Brunell Avenue after a handgun he was showing a teenage boy went off. The 16-year-old boy was handling the gun at the time.  Harmon, a steadfast defender of gun rights and champion of conservative viewpoints, was a longtime Maine Sunday Telegram and Press Herald editor and columnist. He worked for the newspapers for 41 years before retiring in 2011, although he continued writing a weekly column.

The teenage boy and his father, both from North Berwick, were visiting Harmon’s home at the time of the shooting, police said. Detectives said they have been cooperating with the investigation and will be undergoing more questioning on Thursday.

Harmon’s wife, Margaret Harmon, declined Thursday to discuss details of the shooting, calling it an “accidental tragedy.”

Police have not described the type of handgun that was being handled or the circumstances of the shooting. They also have not disclosed the relationship of the teen and his father to Harmon.

I live in one of those towns, won't say which one and it's possible I know the family.  I suppose I'll find out who it was when the gossip overtakes the reticence about identifying a minor, a reticence which I approve of.

The story in his paper also says:

Harmon was known as a conservative thinker and a staunch defender of gun rights in his newspaper columns, including some that argued against the recent failed referendum to require background checks for private gun purchases.

I have said before that I figure if someone is going to die from the abhorently irresponsible gun laws we have that I would rather it be the advocates of those irresponsible gun laws - and lack of laws, than people who are entirely innocent.   I have a sense of ambiguity about that but I'll admit it's how I feel.  Last year Maine had 144 gun deaths, 23 of those listed as homicides.  Some years that figure is higher, some a bit lower.  M. D. Harmon is just one of those for 2016, his death is already listed on some webites that keep track of gun deaths in the United States. Unlike just about everyone else who was killed, he might have been a voice for lowering those numbers, but he spoke up for the gun industry and gun lobby over people who get killed.  Many of them far younger than the boy in the incident that killed him. Some the same age.

M. D. Harmon dying the way he did isn't exactly ironic.  It is something.  What it isn't is in some way unfair.   And I'm not ashamed to say it.

Update:  Here is more on the carnage in Maine.

Gun violence in Maine
The death rate due to gun use is higher in Maine than in New Hampshire, Vermont, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, New York and New Jersey, and six other states (2005 CDC data). 

[ In 2005 the death rate for Maine as listed by the CDC was considerably lower than it is today.]

The suicide rate in Maine is 30% above the national average for people age 20 to 24 according to the most recent data from the Maine CDC.

Firearms account for more than 50% of suicide deaths. Suicide attempts with guns are fatal 85% of the time, but of those who survive an initial attempt, only 10% later commit suicide.

Maine ranks 9th in the nation in the rate of women killed by men (2105). A loophole in current state law allows domestic abusers and felons to purchase guns without a background check.

The unrestricted sale of guns in Maine significantly increases the risk of domestic violence deaths, suicides, hate crimes, and homicides.


  1. In the days of my mis-spent youth, "gun nuts" were people obsessive about gun safety. The gun owners I knew were NRA members, but they're obsession was safety, not the 2nd Amendment.

    Which is my first thought on reading this story. The second is my sympathy for that young boy. A terrible thing to see, someone killed by a gun. Worse when you were the one holding it. May his way be easy, and may he learn the lesson (at least) of gun safety from this horror.

  2. Firearm suicide in Maine has touched my family quite directly. But I love how gun humpers dismiss those stats in the aggregate death toll for some reason...