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Mall shooting widower turns to gun control

Three lifelong gun owners have come together to advocate for gun control after personally experiencing the horror at Clackamas Town Center last December.

by: PHOTO BY: JOSHUA DILLEN - Mike McQuade (left), a volunteer with the Marion County Democrats, shows Rick George (middle) and Paul Kemp where to sign in as they arrive at the meeting room at the headquarters of the Marion County Democrats. They attended to garner support for a bipartisan group they are forming to address gun control.At the six-month mark since the shooting, they aim to unite gun owners in Oregon and across the country to fight for the common goal of safety for citizens.

by: PHOTO BY: JOSHUA DILLEN - Robert Yuille (left) lost his wife in the Clackamas Town Center mall shooting in December. He was speaking at last months meeting of the Marion County Democrats about a new organization he is forming that wants to focus on gun safety and accountability of gun owners. Yuille is a gun owner and in favor of Second Amendment gun rights. Susan Schwab (middle), treasurer of the local Democrats and party Chairman Rick Hartwig look on as Yuille talks.Robert Yuille, husband of shooting victim Cindy Yuille, is one of those gun owners whose loss has changed his purpose in life.

“Cindy and I always believed that things in life happen for a reason. We’re not supposed to know what it is; we’re just supposed to follow that path however it leads us,” Yuille said. “When she was murdered, I really did not think about becoming involved in any kind of activism, whatsoever, but it just has pretty much presented itself to me.”

Paul Kemp lost his brother-in-law, Steve Forsyth, in the shooting. Together with Yuille and under the leadership of Rick George, they spoke of their ignited activism and of their deep wish for new action concerning gun safety to Marion County Democrats at their headquarters in Salem.

George, owner of Grande Ronde Consulting in McMinnville, wants to expand their mission to find a solution to the burgeoning gun violence across the nation. All three have a passion for gun ownership and believe responsible gun owners can exercise their rights and still protect the Second Amendment. They also believe that “gun control” is not a bad term.

“I have seen enough in the last couple of years to move me to action. I have never been involved in gun politics in my life and never wanted to — avoided it,” George said.

He obviously has had a change of heart. The activists are forming a not-for-profit organization tentatively called “Oregon Gun Owners for Safety.”

Kemp, a registered Republican, wants to create a dialogue with government leaders and voters and come to an agreement that will keep people safe and hold gun owners accountable for who their guns kill. The goal is to see legislation that preserves gun owners’ rights and keeps the public protected from guns in the wrong hands.

“My feeling is this is not a partisan issue, and I read a lot about history and leadership. Some of the greatest things that have ever been done in this country are when folks cross the aisle and work together,” Kemp said. “The overwhelming majority of Americans want to see some changes done.”

George, who is from Northeastern Oregon and lives near McMinnville, has been the vice president of policy and indigenous affairs for Ecotrust, executive director for Oregon Rivers Council, and a 21-year program manager for the Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Indian Reservation. The lifelong gun owner has decided to make an impact and do something to keep families safe from killers with guns.

George hopes the trio can harness the power and passion of gun owners.

“I do believe in my heart that it will take gun owners to stand up and say ‘enough is enough.’ It’s time for change, and it’s time for respect for our rights, and time for respect for the rights of people who should be able to walk through malls safely,” George said. “And it’s time for children to be able to go to school with as much safety in their school environment as we can give them. And that means change.”

George is hard at work spreading his message to as many people as he can. He is talking to Democrats, Republicans, Independents, young people, mature people and all gun owners to develop a dialogue about changing current gun regulation.

Kemp has connected with the families and victims of several shootings across the country including the victims and families of the Gabby Giffords and Columbine shootings. The past several months have kept him busy experiencing the dynamic of the country’s heated dialogue.

Kemp, who spoke for about 10 minutes, outlined some ideas the group would like to present that would be palatable to government lawmakers. They included convincing the leadership of the National Rifle Association to be more in line with its membership to garner support from that gun-owning base. Kemp believes a majority of NRA members would support stricter laws mandating gun safes and trigger locks. The goal is to see legislation passed that will keep guns out of the hands of people like Jacob Tyler Roberts, the shooter in the Clackamas mall tragedy, who used a stolen gun.

Stroller Jam

In honor of the six-month anniversary of the Clackamas Town Center shootings, moms from across Oregon brought their children, their strollers — and their determination —- to the entrance of the state capitol’s legislative chamber this month to demand action from Oregon lawmakers on a background check bill, Senate Bill 700.

SB 700 would create background check requirements that include nearly every private and online sale, with a reasonable exception for transfers between close family members. Advocates say the bill would make background checks convenient and private for individual sellers, while making it much harder for criminals to buy a gun.

“Oregon moms and our families are tired of waiting for action on gun-safety legislation from our state senate, we’re not giving up and we’re not going away,” said Jenn Lynch, local chapter lead for Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America. “As moms, we’ve been through the ‘terrible twos’ and we’ve heard our share of ‘no’s,’ so we’re converging on Salem to demand ‘yes’ from our lawmakers. Yes, we will grow up and step up to the challenge of preventing gun violence in Oregon.”




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