My View: Gun control laws do make a difference
On the evening of Dec. 11, 2012, I planned to meet my brother-in-law, Steve Forsyth, at the Clackamas Town Center mall. That afternoon, I received a frantic call from my sister; there had been a shooting at the mall.
When I arrived on the scene, I stood alongside my sister and niece for hours before learning that Steve had been shot and killed with a stolen, unlocked assault rifle. Steve was shot while on the phone with his father.
A lot has changed since that horrible day five years ago. From the shooting at Umpqua Community College two years later, to the recent shootings in Las Vegas and Texas, it pains me to think that thousands of more families have experienced the same heartbreak that our family has endured.
Neither Steve, the UCC students, Vegas concert audience nor the recent Texas folks in their church were in the wrong place at the wrong moment. But through these tumultuous times, there has been one leader in Oregon who has been a constant presence in the fight to make our communities safer communities: Kate Brown.
As our governor, Brown has devoted herself to making Oregon a better, safer place to live for everyone. In her very first year in office, Gov. Brown took on the corporate gun lobby and passed a commonsense bill that closed a major gap in Oregon law that let dangerous people buy guns without a background check.
After closing the background check loophole, Brown took up the issue of guns and domestic violence, helping pass critical legislation that closed a loophole in Oregon law that allowed domestic violence misdemeanants to legally possess firearms. Throughout her time as governor, Brown has been a champion for keeping guns out of the wrong hands and combating the deadly link between firearms and suicides.
As the 2018 gubernatorial race begins to heat up, the stakes in this election could not be higher, and the differences between the two candidates could not be starker. Where Gov. Brown has been called a leader by U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords for her work championing responsible gun safety laws, her opponent, Knute Buehler, has said that laws won't make a difference.
If this tired rhetoric sounds familiar, that's because it is. It's the same failed talking points that the gun lobby spews every time there is a mass shooting. Knute Buehler and the gun lobby want you to think that gun violence is just plain normal. That absolutely nothing can be done to prevent the next shooting from happening. Kate Brown knows that is simply untrue, and so do most Oregonians.
There is no denying that gun violence is a complex problem. But as a founding board member of Gun Owners for Responsible Ownership, I know there are some evidence-based steps that Oregon's leaders can take to help the roughly 450 Oregonians who die every year from gun violence.
In her first term as governor, Kate Brown has proven to be a thoughtful, committed leader who has taken many of these important steps. Imagine the progress that we could make in the next four years under Brown's leadership. Imagine how we could make our communities safer from gun violence. Imagine how many lives we might save.
Paul Kemp is a gun owner and a founding member of Gun Owners for Responsible Ownership and an advisory member of the Giffords Oregon Coalition. He can be reached at >www.responsibleownership.org