ANOTHER VOICE: Responsible gun owners support background checks

By PAUL KEMP, TOM O’CONNOR and ROBERT YUILLE

We are Oregon gun owners, sportsmen, hunters and outdoorsmen. We believe in common sense efforts to reduce gun violence and promote gun safety. We strongly support legislation to require universal background checks when purchasing a firearm.

The 2nd Amendment provides for the right to own a firearm. However, this right, as with any right, comes with responsibilities. As gun owners, we have a responsibility to do our part to help minimize the chances that firearms don’t fall into the hands of felons, domestic abusers, or the dangerously mentally ill.

We can help by ensuring that our firearms and ammunition are locked up separately and safely. We can help by supporting legislation to require background checks for all firearm purchases except those between family members.

Universal background check requirements are in no way a violation of the 2nd Amendment. They are part of common sense efforts to reduce gun violence and do not infringe on the right of law-abiding citizens to own firearms. The U.S. Supreme Court decision in D.C. v. Heller makes that perfectly clear. Justice Antonin Scalia, writing for the majority, stated:

“... nothing in our opinion should be taken to cast doubt on longstanding prohibitions on the possession of firearms by felons and the mentally ill, or laws forbidding the carrying of firearms in sensitive places such as schools and government buildings, or laws imposing conditions and qualifications on the commercial sale of firearms.”

Universal background checks are not by any stretch of the imagination an unreasonable burden. For us to take a few extra minutes to fill out a background check form is a simple, effective way to help reduce gun violence in our communities.

Put simply, universal background checks make a difference. Initial 2013 Oregon State Police data shows background checks blocked 263 potential sales to fugitives from justice, 80 potential sales to convicted domestic abusers, 51 potential sales to persons subject to a restraining order, and over 750 potential sales to convicted felons.

Tragically, some of us know all too well the terrible loss of a family member to gun violence. We may not be able to stop every violent act committed with a firearm, but we believe we must adopt and return to sensible common practice and regulations about the use of firearms in order to reduce the current level of violence, particularly to our children.

As gun owners, we want to do our part to help prevent this from happening to others. We are joining with others who want to be part of this effort to form a new organization, Gun Owners for Responsible Ownership. We stand with the four out of five Oregonians, including gun owners, who support universal background checks.

Tom O’Connor, of Lake Oswego, is an outdoorsman; Paul Kemp is a hunter and resident of Happy Valley; Robert Yuille is a gun owner and resident of Portland. All are members of the group Gun Owners for Responsible Ownership.

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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 www.co.hood-river.or.us to opt-in for citizen alerts. Enlarge



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