ANOTHER VOICE: Guns since Newtown — not a happy anniversary

On Dec. 14 it will have been a year since the mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn.

Twenty children and seven adults were killed by a young man with a history of significant mental illness and an arsenal of semi-automatic weapons.

The incident was the second deadliest mass shooting by a single person in American history, after the 2007 Virginia Tech massacre, and prompted renewed debate about gun control in the United States. You could reasonably expect to see a prompt raft of state-level legislation aimed at gun safety and restrictions. It is a testament to the moneyed drive of the NRA, and its mostly Republican minions, that the truth is wildly different.

Since Newtown, approximately 1,500 gun-related bills have been introduced in the various states’ legislatures. The topics of these various legislative efforts include gun permits, public carry, guns in schools, mental health, background checks, assault weapons, nullify federal law, gun access, and lost/stolen firearms. Of the 1,500 bills introduced, 178 passed at least one chamber of a state legislature. 109 have become law.

Thirty-nine of them tighten gun restrictions; 70 loosen gun restrictions. All of this in a country where numerous surveys in the past year have shown the vast majority of the public favors at least some gun restrictions to curb the daily gun violence in our communities.

What happened in Oregon? Five bills were introduced, four in the Senate (background checks, concealed carry in schools and state Capitol building, and concealed carry training) and one in the House (assault weapons). None of them passed even one legislative chamber, although the background checks bill came close.

What happened in Washington? The state actually passed two relevant laws: one creating a statewide database of mental health information and requiring submission of mental health commitment records to the state, and one creating a registry of gun offenders. Two bills passed the first Chamber before getting killed: one prohibiting subjects of domestic-violence protection orders from obtaining firearms or concealed weapons permits, and one to allow an NRA “safety program” in schools and child care centers.

So here’s a question that should be easy. Do we give a damn? And the other, even more important, are we going to hold our elected representatives accountable?

Here it is, election season. There will be fundraisers and public forums. Will we speak up, ask the questions, make sure the candidates answer instead of dancing around them? Will we campaign and vote based on the answers? If we don’t, we’re complicit.


Bonnie New lives in Hood River.

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Parkdale third graders sing "12 Disaster Days of Christmas"

Welcome to your sing-able Christmas gift list. What follows is an emergency rendition of “12 Days of Christmas” – for outfitting your home or car in case of snow storm, earthquake, flood or other emergency. Read it as a simple list, or sing it to the tune of “12 Days” – you know, as in “ … and a partridge in a pear tree…” Not to make light of it, but the song is a familiar framework for a set of gift ideas that you could consider gathering together, even if the recipient already owns items such as a bunch of coats, tire chains and flashlights. Stores throughout the Gorge are stocked up on all these items. Buying all 12 days might be prohibitive, but here are three ideas for checking any of the dozen off your list (notations follow, 1-12.) The gift items needed to stay warm, dry and safe are also coded to suggest items in your abode (A) in your car (C) or both (B). 12 Gallons of Water (A) 11 Family meals (B) 10 Cans of propane (A) 9 Hygiene bags (B) 8 Packs of batteries (A) 7 Spare coats (B) 6 Bright red flares (C) 5 Cozy blankets (B) 4 Tire chains (C) 3 Flashlights (B) 2 cell phone chargers (B) 1 And a crush-proof first aid kit (B) Price ranges? Here’s a few quotes for days Three, Two, Four and Nine: n A family gift of flashlights (three will run $15-30, Hood River Supply, Tum-A-Lum) n Cell phone chargers (two will run $30-60) n Tire chains (basic set, $30, Les Schwab, returnable if unused for the winter) n Family meals ($100 or so should cover the basics for three or four reasonably well-fed days) n The home kit should be kept in a handy place near an exit, and remember that water needs to be replenished every few months. If you have a solid first aid kit already, switch out the gift idea with “and-a-sto-o-u-t- tub-for it-all …” Otherwise, it’s a case of assembling your home or car kits and making sure all members of the family know what the resources are and how to use them (ie flares and propane). Emergency situations are at worst life-threatening, at best deeply uncomfortable if you and your family are left without power for an extended period, or traveling and find yourself in a situation where you need to wait out a storm, lengthy traffic delay, or other crisis. Notes on the 12 gift ideas: 12 – Gallons of water: that’s one per person in a four-member family to last for three days, the recommended minimum to be prepared for utility outages. 11 – Easy-open packaged goods, energy bars, dried food and nuts are good things to include for nutrition. Think of what your family of four needs for three days to stay fortified and hydrated (see number 12). Can-opener also recommended 10 – If you have a propane camping stove, keep extra fuel handy. 9 – Hygiene bags: put packaged moistened towelettes, toilet paper, and plastic ties in large garbage bags (for personal sanitation) Resource list courtesy of Hood River County Emergency Management, Barbara Ayers, manager/ 541-386-1213. The county also reminds residents to Get a Kit, Make A Plan to connect your family if separated, and Stay Informed. See to opt-in for citizen alerts. Enlarge


kpickel says...

So Bonnie, what you're saying is, as a group, we're headed in a direction that is in direct conflict with where we say we want to be. We're headed in a direction that the surveys say we don't want to go in. So, why is that? Is it an accident? Coincidence? What is it?

Posted 15 January 2014, 12:47 a.m. Suggest removal

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