A longtime gun rights columnist for The Portland Press Herald and Maine Sunday Telegram was fatally shot on Wednesday afternoon while showing a handgun from his collection to a teenager.
The former editor and current columnist, Michael D. Harmon, died in his home in Sanford, Maine, according to police reports shared with The Portland Press Herald. Harmon, 71, was showing a handgun to a 16-year-old boy when it was accidentally discharged, killing the semi-retired columnist.
The teenage boy involved in the accident was visiting Harmon with his father, who was also present at the time of the shooting. Both are cooperating with police in the subsequent investigation.
No details regarding the type of weapon that was used or the boy’s relationship to Harmon was available, and authorities announced that the state medical examiner will be performing an autopsy in Augusta, the state capital.
Maine Public Safety spokesman Steve McCausland told The Journal Tribune:
‘The 16 year-old was handling the gun at the time. Detectives said everyone has been cooperating.’
Margaret Harmon, the writer’s wife, declined to offer details to press, stating only that the shooting was an “accidental tragedy.”
Of Harmon, Portland Press Herald editor Greg Kesich said:
‘He was a really classic American conservative in the William S. Buckley National Review style … a social conservative, a national defense conservative and an economic conservative.
‘We were about as far apart as you could be on views, we disagreed on every major political issue of substance — but I found him to be great to work with and a tremendous colleague.’
Harmon was a hardline defender of gun rights and a staunch conservative whose columns reflected his strong position on Second Amendment rights. Although Harmon retired in 2011, he continued to write a weekly column.
Harmon’s most recent article before his death expressed Harmon’s impatience for the end of the Obama administration and the inauguration of Donald Trump. Harmon also compared Obama’s last-minute actions in office to preserve his presidency legacy to those of a “spiteful ex-spouse smashing as much furniture as he can before the door slams and the lock clicks behind him.”
Ironically enough, one of Harmon’s most strongly worded articles published on The Maine Wire in 2013 focused on criticism of a new Maine law requiring gun owners to take a firearms safety class — something that might have prevented his death had the young man he was with been required to take before being allowed to handle a firearm.
In the article, Harmon says of several Maine laws introduced that year in order to reduce gun deaths:
‘But the absolute worst part of the bill is that it would require all gun buyers to take a firearm safety course.
‘So much for “the right of the people to keep and bear arms.” It’s one thing to have the government create limited groups of people not entitled to own firearms for good reasons — felons, the insane, children, etc. — and quite another to have the government think it can require that a free people get official permits to exercise their rights!’
Unfortunately, it will never be known if Harmon thought it was a bad idea for the government to require a “permit” or training to drive a car, fly an airplane, or other activities within our rights as free citizens that could potentially be fatal in untrained hands. It’s certainly a tragedy when the careless use of firearms claims another victim, and it’s certainly a tragedy that gun rights advocates refuse to believe that gun control measures are meant as much to prevent accidental deaths as they are to keep guns out of the hands of the “bad guys.”
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