Drugs, booze and guns. Country, hip-hop or Augusta?

Milwaukee Journal Sentinel photo by Jeff Sainlar.

Milwaukee Journal Sentinel photo by Jeff Sainlar.

Mike: Well, Joanne Twomey has the governor’s front, while Joe Baldacci has Paul LePage’s back, at least as far as hard drugs are concerned. Are other Democrats going to step forward and support the governor’s “tough on drugs” proposals?

Cynthia: When it comes to drugs, often you can count on Democrats to just say yes, so I’m hopeful an agreement can be reached. The proposal must include treatment for the victims of drug crimes, i.e. addicts, for it to responsibly fix the problem. There are two sides to the equation that have to be addressed.

The bigger question is whether Republicans are going to support it. The proposal increases government spending, adds government jobs to the state’s payroll and is a government solution to a problem that could be corrected by the free market. Right, Mike?

Mike: Contrary to caricatures, Republicans aren’t anti-government. We just believe government is doing too many things and doing all of those things poorly. Cops, courts, and jails are core functions that need to be done better. So yes, the enforcement side will get Republican support.

But through the enforcement side, you can still reduce demand. Drug courts have had success in Maine by providing both accountability and consequences, and they offer an opportunity to identify co-occurring mental health disorders. “Treatment” doesn’t only mean “throwing money into DHHS.”

Cynthia: News alert: Republicans are the government in Maine. We can agree they are governing poorly and that no more money should be wasted by incompetent bureaucrats at DHHS. But you say the GOP supports law enforcement, and yet the bill garnering attention this week is one sponsored by a 26 year-old Republican senator wanting to make a name for himself that will let 19 year-olds keep loaded guns hidden in their sweatshirts and glove compartments without any basic training or permit.

Should this ridiculously reckless law pass, will Gov. LePage stand with law enforcement and veto it?

Mike: Wait a second — I worked on the same bill in 2013 with Rep. Aaron Libby. We came within one vote of passing it in the Democratically controlled House. And guess what? The Maine State Police came out in favor. The more they looked at it, the more they realized we’re just throwing money away into a bureaucracy issuing permits for those who choose to follow the law.

Wouldn’t it make more sense to spend those hundreds of thousands of dollars dealing with mental health issues, updating records so existing laws can be effective? That’s my only gripe with this year’s iteration — we’re not increasing governmental efficiency. There are ways to accomplish it while protecting reciprocity, but they aren’t in the bill yet.

Cynthia: The permitting process for carrying a concealed weapon should not be meaningless, and most people comply with the law. That’s the point. Costs associated with mandatory training and permitting are outweighed by the cost of human life snuffed out by gun violence. The Constitution doesn’t grant angry teenagers with raging hormones the right to hide a loaded gun in their sagging pants.

And the GOP/NRA argument about mental health is interesting: criminals won’t follow laws restricting guns, but they’ll go to counseling?

The bottom line is this: any lawmaker who votes to make guns more accessible will have the blood of Maine children on their hands, and that’s a high price to pay for fixing a “problem” that doesn’t exist.

Mike: “The blood of Maine children?” Really? People manage to survive childhood in the People’s paradise of Vermont; this bill would merely put us on par with them. Or are Vermonters all hopped up on hard cheddar and unable to commit crimes?

But if doing things “for the children” is a salve that makes any idea worthwhile, should we also ban adults from using powdered alcohol? You know, because kids.

Cynthia: Republicans have been drinking the NRA Kool-Aid for decades. Surely a change will do them good.

So no. I don’t think powdered alcohol should be banned. Think of how much lighter our back packs will be when hiking up Mt. Katahdin!

Mike: Hey, we’re back to agreement! We can let responsible adults make their own choices, and then hold them accountable if those choices break laws. Besides, a drink, whether powdered or a cheater pint, might do some Democrats good. Maybe they would calm down and not throw things at the governor.

Cynthia: I’ll drink to that, and raise a glass to all legislators who vote in the interests of their constituents who want reasonable regulation of both guns and alcohol.

Mike: Let’s see, we’ve covered drugs, booze, and guns. Are we discussing country music, hip-hop, or Augusta? Sometimes, you just can’t tell.