Thursday, April 04, 2013


I attended a rally today in Salem, Oregon, on the front steps of the state Capitol. My guess is that there were 150 or more people there to support gun control legislation, and maybe another dozen or so demonstrating against gun control. The Oregon Senate will hold hearings, starting tomorrow, on proposed new legislation of guns. The proposed laws would:

  • Ban guns in primary and secondary schools, eliminating a law that allows people with concealed-handgun licenses to carry weapons in schools. Local school boards would be able to opt out and continue the existing policy.
  • Prohibit openly carrying a weapon in public buildings, including the state Capitol. Gun owners with concealed-handgun licenses could continue to carry firearms if they're hidden from view.
  • Require background checks on gun sales and transfers, except between family members. Oregon already requires background checks on private sales at gun shows.
  • Require a shooting test to obtain a concealed-handgun license.
In my opinion, these proposals are common sense and a beginning, not an end. Other proposed legislation that would have banned assault-type weapons and large-capacity ammunition clips were too contentious and has been dropped. 

Several Oregon legislators spoke at the rally (above). These Senators and Representatives are firm supporters of gun control, and have been on the front line of the often acrimonial public discourse about this issue. They have received nasty and often threatening emails for their efforts. 

My sense is that the majority of Oregonians, including gun owners, will support these proposed regulations of firearms. I think people are tired of the killings, and not just the widely publicized mass shootings like Newtown and Aurora. Most of us see gun control as a set of common sense rules that will not take away people's right to own a gun, but address serious public health issues - death and injury by gun. 

The opponents of gun control who were at the rally are afraid that government will take away their guns and then do bad things to us. The above placard likens Oregon Senator Ginny Burdick, one of our most outspoken and persistent elected officials, as well as national leaders,  to Adolf Hitler. Really? And I did mention to this particular man that tyrants love armed militias - that work for them. 

It was good to see many more supporters of gun control today than opponents. I firmly believe that reasonable people can come to agreement about the basic issues here, and get behind common-sense rules about guns and gun ownership. What is truly needed in this country is a cultural shift away from fear of government towards protecting the public. This is possibly; it will take a lot of hard work and time. 

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