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Proposed state gun legislation scary – or worse

 

April 24, 2019



Gun ownership and hunting advocacy groups have issued repeated warnings this spring that Oregon legislators are crafting new regulations that would ban large-capacity magazines (over five or 10 rounds), require higher age limits and tighter background checks for gun purchases, make access to firearms an “endangering minor” crime and more.

The Oregon Hunters Association has urged those concerned about this to contact legislators immediately, warning that there may be little notice of opportunities to testify publicly about the plans.

The anti-firearm legislation moving through the legislature should frighten any state residents who value their liberty.

When they say that Second Amendment rights are on the line in Salem this year, we don’t think they’re making a mountain out of a molehill. If OHA is correct that legislative leaders are pursuing or allowing a back-door approach to rolling out “secret” legislation, all of us should be concerned – whether we care to own a gun or not.

When we objectively analyze the content of the gun legislation that is making its way through the legislature as we speak, we’re seeing a determined effort to make it illegal for adults under 21 to purchase a gun or ammunition, a requirement to lock all firearms (rendering them essentially useless in the very self-defense situations where they are necessary), and victimizing owners of stolen firearms that are used by criminals who have been apprehended.

These are bold moves. The fallacious thinking – and realities – behind these proposals are frightening.

Here are some ways this can play out: Suppose you are lying asleep in the dark of the night and you wake to the sound of your doorknob turning and the floor creaking. An intruder is entering your bedroom. It’s pretty clear that calling the police – which apparently is the response our legislators envision, would be futile. You reach for your weapon – wait, it’s now locked in a safe with a second lock on the trigger, thanks to these laws.

Suppose your teenager wants to go deer hunting with her cousin and uncle, but she doesn’t have any shells. Thanks to these laws, she can’t buy them because she’s 19, though she’s been old enough to drive a motor vehicle for three years.

Suppose you own your great-grandfather’s old rifle, which lacks a serial number. One bill that’s been on the table in Salem, includes a ban on that as well. Possession of Grandpa’s rifle would be a felony, even if the gun is an heirloom.

What this legislature is moving toward is criminalizing normal, responsible behavior by Oregon citizens.

Guns are dangerous, but only in the hands of people who either don’t know how to use them or do so with evil intent, or are simply careless – just like motor vehicle operators.

That’s the part that the legislature should consider. That’s reality. If someone wants to injure someone else, they can do it with an illegal firearm or with another device, as they do in countries that have strict gun laws.

If our state legislators really wanted to address the problem they see guns causing, the logical solution would be to start by encouraging or mandating instruction in the proper use and respect for firearms.

Earlier this year a bill was introduced in the state Senate that would have provided for exactly that: safety training in classrooms for Oregon first-graders.

For those who remember when one could drive into the high school parking lot with a deer rifle on the rack, showing clearly through the back window of our pickup truck, without causing whiplash and calls to police, the presumption that guns are suddenly at the root of all evil has come with withering speed.

That’s why this legislation to educate kids makes sense. It actually addresses a real problem for all of us – lack of respect for an instrument that, when handled carelessly or with evil intent, can cause significant harm.

Children, particularly in urban communities, often do not get exposure to firearms and necessary training in how to safely handle them. If a kid’s parents don’t happen to own a gun and one should happen to fall into that youngster’s hands, we can’t necessarily expect him or her to respect the weapon or to instinctively know to do the right thing.

Also, if all one has seen of weapons use is people being blown away on screens – TV, video game or movie theater, one certainly might make wrong associations in regard to guns in general – the results of which we’ve all seen in the very incidents these legislators seek to limit.

Eugene resident Derek LeBlanc, who in 2014 founded the Safe Around Firearms Education foundation – S.A.F.E., says the message for kids is simple: “Stop. Don’t touch. Run away. Tell a grownup.”

His curriculum, which he offers in schools and other venues, aims to remove the novelty of firearms, encourage dialogue on the subject within homes, and educate families in proper handling and secure storage, according to his website, kidssafefoundation.org.

The classes do not involve real guns and, under the bill, they wouldn’t be mandatory. Parents could opt out, though we would ask why they’d want to.

This approach certainly makes sense for anybody who doesn’t have or need opportunities to learn gun safety otherwise.

The bill had promise, a breath of fresh air in a cloud of political opportunism that smells a lot like tyranny. But it died in committee, as many new ideas do. We think it should be re-introduced and we hope it gets legs.

Our legislators should pull their heads out of the sand of political power and consider this rational approach to a problem that won’t be solved by their gun laws – because criminals will still have guns. We’re not talking about the innocent, responsible residents across Oregon who could be placed in that category by the legislature’s proposed laws.

Local residents need to connect with legislators, but more importantly with friends and family members who live in districts represented by legislators who might be intoxicated before this foul cloud of folly gets out of Pandora’s box.

 
 

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