Last week, in the middle of coming to grips with what had happened in Orlando, with forty-nine dead people at the hands of a hateful and broken man, I started to pivot from grief for the loss, to action to prevent these things going further. As part of this, I mulled over where to reach out, and where to put my energy. I could keep writing letters to Congress. I could keep fighting the comment battle on Facebook. I could keep lighting candles and attending vigils and standing tall with my queer people. I could also reach out to a place that I know, and that knows me, and learn a bit about how they manage to be both a purveyor of firearms, but also a responsible corporate citizen in the state that I will forever call home – Maine.
I reached out to L.L. Bean, the iconic and historic outdoor sporting goods retailer that has always been quintessential to representing part of what being from Maine means, and engage in a conversation. I sent this letter to their corporate offices:Letter-to-LL-Bean
While I wasn’t sure why I felt compelled to do this, as time passed between sending the letter, and the response I got on Friday before taking off to enjoy Pride Weekend, I realized I was seeking some footing. I was seeking some ties to home, some sort of sanity from the place I’m from, as I take more steps forward to promote an honest, real, and engaged discussion about the problem we have with guns in America today. I was seeking an example of what I thought was a smart gun sales policy (I kind of remembered how L.L. Bean handled guns from my time there as an employee, but I needed it in writing again).
This is the response I got from Carolyn Beem, Manager of Public Affairs for L.L. Bean (mouse over and select the next page to view page two):Response-from-L.L.-Bean
Removing the questions surrounding their absence from the Maine Pride celebrations, I really felt good about their response concerning guns and gun safety. They do have an understanding and respect for firearms that could serve as a model for gun usage in our country going forward – especially with respect for hunters and sportspeople. I align myself in that camp – a healthy and deep-seeded respect for the power of a firearm and the need for adequate and responsible safety and gun ownership responsibility. I also echo their stance with regards to assault weapons as tools for hunting; they aren’t designed for hunting at all.
We can solve this. We can take into consideration the heritage and traditions of hunters and ranchers and people who depend on gun access for those reasons. We can make exceptions for gun owners who simply enjoy shooting (clay pigeons, target practicing, and the like), without constantly and continually selling weapons of mass destruction – what I’m now calling these assault and military-grade style of weapons that are too present in our country.
We can, and we will solve this.