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A 'Demand for Action'

Supporters of gun background checks seek Schrader's vote


by: SUBMITTED - Demand for Action brought together citizens seeking effective national gun legislation. Speakers included, from left, Tom O'Connor, Kathy Gordon and Paul Kemp, whose brother-in-law, Steve Forsyth of West Linn, was shot and killed at Clackamas Town Center last winter.Both sides on the gun issue can agree that American life is tense with the threat of a shooter suddenly arriving on the scene and killing innocent people.

One side believes a way to reduce this threat is to have a national bill that requires universal background checks on purchasers of guns, and about 35 of them met in Lake Oswego on Aug. 21 under the banner “Demand for Action.” They want to reach not only everyday citizens but also to the lawmakers who will ultimately decide whether such a bill will pass. They want to reverse the action taken in April by the U.S. Senate, which rejected a bill for gun background checks.

They would especially like to convince U.S. Rep. Kurt Schrader of Oregon District 5 to join their cause. So far their efforts have not been successful.

“We asked Kurt Schrader to sign in on this,” said Kathy Gordon of Lake Oswego. “He has made no commitment. We think that given a few pushes he will be on our side. He’s our national representative, so we really would like his support.”

“I’ve met several times with Mr. Schrader,” said Paul Kemp of Happy Valley. “I told him, ‘The proof will come when you have a chance to vote. We’ll be watching.’ The responsibility solely lies in the laps of our representatives.”

The support of people like Kemp is crucial to the efforts of those seeking gun background check legislation. As he said, “I’m a Republican, I own a gun, I hunt. I have no problem with my friends who have concealed weapons permits.”

Kemp is also a committed activist on achieving gun background checks. His brother-in-law Steve Forsyth of West Linn was shot and killed in the Clackamas Town Center shooting in December. It was “the worst day of my life,” Kemp said, fighting tears at one point during his talk.

Ted Ricks of Lake Oswego ticked off the places made unsafe by ineffective gun regulation over the past few years: movie theaters, schools, political rallies and shopping centers.

“This is a public safety issue,” Ricks said. “We’re ignoring the real issue of public safety.”

Gordon noted that her husband, Jerry, is a gun owner and hunter, but they are committed to gun background checks. Despite the failure of the bill in April, she said, “It’s not something we can forget about.”

Tom O’Connor of Lake Oswego, a speaker at the meeting, said, “We will never stop every violent act, but we can take steps to prevent the level of violence in our country. The first thing we can do is background checks. Oregon does pretty well on this, but we can’t be an island. We need a national bill.”

“It’s a long road ahead,” Kemp said. “It’s going to take a long time, at least two years. It takes commitment.”

Kemp saw plenty of commitment at the meeting.

A phone bank was held at the meeting, and the activists — made up of representatives of several organizations, including Mayors Against Illegal Guns — contacted many everyday citizens.

“Our phone bank reached quite a few people,” said Ken Chappuis of West Linn. “We’ve had a positive response. We talked to a lot of gun owners, and they’re concerned about this issue, too.”

For more information, visit mayorsagainstillegalguns.org.



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