Gun Violence


Growing up in the country outside of Indianapolis, I got a BB gun at age 12 and a 22 rifle a couple of years later. My mother had been a nurse in the southern rural counties of Indiana and had evidently seen enough that she was not gun friendly. I never did understand how dad convinced her to let me have one, but, for my 14th birthday I did get that Remington 22. I had several friends that hunted birds and I did go with them occasionally, though trust me, those birds had nothing to fear from my ability. The hunting trips ended one weekend when one of my friends swung a 16 gauge around to shoot at something and it went off a few inches from the side of my head. Fortunately, my hearing eventually came back. However, the feeling he almost took my head off, never quite went away.

I have nothing against rifles and understand people enjoy them. I personally do not understand the desire to hunt and kill a living thing and choose not to do that. I respect the right of other people to do this and would not infringe on that right. Hunting has continued to decline in the U.S. to the point that only 6% of the population hunts.

Hand guns and automatic weapons are another story entirely. This piece will likely not sit well with some reading this. However, as I claim to be a “different” kind of Democrat, that includes telling the truth about where I stand on issues. As the U.S. is now awash in these types of guns, so is the murder and suicide rate. A recent call to action by “Moms Demand Action” states that of the 30,000 gun deaths in the U.S., 2/3 are suicides. Suicide is one of Oregon’s most persistent public health problems and is the second leading cause of death among Oregonians aged 15 to 34. The Washington Post reported that there are now more guns than people in the country. Estimates for the actual number of guns is all over the map but the general consensus is the number exceeds 300 million. This does not mean everyone owns a gun. The number of armed Americans has declined to 22% since 1994. Just 3% of the adult population now owns 50% of the guns (anywhere between 8 to 140 guns per person). Many gun owners will tell you they buy guns for protection. Yet a recent study released by the Harvard School of Public Health shows just the opposite. Those places with more guns have more homicides.

Bottom line is guns are big business with annual production in the U.S. in excess of 11 million and revenues of $14 billion. Four percent of this production is exported, 96% remain in America. The biggest noise in the room about people coming for your guns is of course the National Rifle Association. Despite a membership of 5 million out of a total gun ownership population of 100 million, the NRA continues to push for laws such as open carry. Two thirds of Americans, including gun owners are against open carry. The NRA argues against background checks, despite the fact nearly 90% of Americans support this action. The NRA argues against reasonable laws such as removing guns from people deemed mentally unfit or suicidal. In other words the NRA is simply blind to common sense gun ownership that most Americans want and abide by. It is well past the time to tell the NRA, take your nonsense elsewhere. We here in Oregon can manage our own affairs without your help.