If my grandpa knew that firearm ownership was so controversial and that supposedly sane people seek to abolish the Second Amendment to the Constitution of the United States, he would spin in his grave.

I can recall back when Sen. Ted Kennedy was running for office. Kennedy’s anti-gun stance was so threatening to our Second Amendment rights that I purchased a large-caliber handgun in case Kennedy won and became president. I wasn’t alone, either. Yet poor Grandpa told me I was worried over nothing, that this was Maine and such things could never happen here. The old man was generally very smart, but he got that one wrong for sure.

The Maine that Grandpa and I knew in years past has changed so dramatically that it is barely recognizable. Anti-gun sentiment abounds and in fact, anti-hunting and even anti-fishing factions thrive in our state. What we once considered good and honorable is now the target of liberal people who are attempting, with a good degree of success, to change our culture.

To wit, consider the number of yellow “No Trespassing” signs seen along any country road. Where once the doctrine of permissive trespass (if it isn’t posted you can hunt or fish on it unless the landowner tells you otherwise) prevailed, now there is virtually no un-posted land to recreate on. And the liberal contingent maintains that if you disagree with this anti-Maine culture sentiment, you have some kind of phobia, of which there is a long list.

Many of these phobias are new to me and some have interesting names. I especially like “xenophobia.” When I first heard of it I thought it meant fear of Zena of the Jungle, but that wasn’t so.

The problem of old-time, conservative residents versus new, leftist folks, grows increasingly more pronounced with each passing day. In fact, where I live was once a country road with only a few houses on each end. I was near the middle and with the exception of a working hen barn, had no neighbors.

I maintained an active shooting range back then, but have since discontinued its use out of concern for my new, gun-hating neighbors. Now, even sighting in a gun prior to hunting season will practically guarantee a phone call from some supposedly “concerned” individual. It wasn’t always this way and it truly breaks my heart.

Thankfully, the “old” Maine still exists, but it has moved further inland. The old, or shall I say the “real,” Maine can be defined, at least partially, by how people vote. During the 2016 election, political signs in Waldo County were largely Democrat, but when heading north and crossing Route 202 in Dixmont, that changed and Democrat campaign signs were in the minority. That, to me, spoke volumes about the cultural and societal difference between southern and northern Maine.

The people who campaign for gun bans are, by and large, those who have never owned a firearm and are totally unfamiliar with the differences between the different guns. For instance, comparing the Maine hunter’s old favorite deer rifle, a semi-automatic carbine in .30-06 caliber, to so-called “assault weapons” is ludicrous.

The National Rifle Association is despised by the left, its very being threatened and members labeled as terrorists. Nothing is further from the truth. The NRA has long practiced firearms safety education, even taking to the schools with its Eddie Eagle program.

But instead of welcoming such sensible education and training, our new crop of anti-gunners seeks to destroy an ancient and honorable organization that does nothing but stand up for the rule of law and the U.S. Constitution.

The sad part of the situation is that honest gun owners rank among the best and most law-abiding citizens. Gun owners also represent the last best hope for our country in wartime, an armed citizenry that will fight any invading army and protect our homeland.

I’d like to say that guns and hunting, so important to our traditional way of life, will always be part and parcel of living in Maine. But in order for our freedom-loving ways to continue, conservatives must unite, and that means going to the polls at every election and voting down liberal efforts to demonize us and our way of life.

All of us, both conservative and liberal, who seriously wish to see our wishes become reality, must never skip an election. Which side will prevail, though, is anybody’s guess.

Tom Seymour is a freelance magazine and newspaper writer, book author, naturalist and forager. He lives in Waldo.