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Cassie Sollars: Broader background checks a point of consensus?

Can Stock photo
Can Stock photo

The nation’s collective grief felt tragically and achingly familiar after last month’s shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida.

Fourteen students and three teachers were murdered; more than a dozen other people were injured. It was the deadliest school shooting since Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut, where Adam Lanza massacred 20 first-graders and six adults.

How could this happen yet again, without any action being taken? If the cold-blooded murder of 6- and 7-year-old children didn’t result in stricter gun laws, what would it take?

Intelligent answers to that question aren’t easy, because the phenomenon is brutally complex. We can blame the untreated mental health issues of the shooters or we can rail against irresponsible gun laws with loopholes a mile wide.

But, before we demonize one another, let’s back away from knee-jerk reactions and start with a simple basic question:

Where do you fall on the scale of gun ownership? Do you identify with the far left, where no guns are legal in the hands of the public; or on the far right, where Charlton Heston’s “from my cold dead hands” is the mantra? If you find yourself in either of those rigid camps, you might as well fold up this section of the newspaper and use it to line the cat box.

However, if you would like to wade into unfamiliar territory, or if your views are closer to the majority of Americans, who are increasingly demanding common sense gun laws, read on, my friends. It is far past time to rise up out of that comfortable armchair and make your views known.  

I grew up in North Dakota, where hunting is a way of life. In fact, going deer hunting was an excused absence from school each fall.

I was taught how to use a Marlin Glenfield Model 60 .22 rifle when I was about 11 or 12.

Well, that might be an exaggeration. My dad gave me one lesson in the gravel pits just outside town, and I failed miserably. Let’s just say that I do not, nor will I ever, own a firearm.

Guest Writer

Cassie Sollars has been a community activist since she moved to McMinnville more than 40 years ago. After paying jobs in banking, accounting and real estate, she served as Viewpoints editor at the News-Register, then executive director of the McMinnville Downtown Association. She pretends to be retired, but don’t believe her. She spends most mornings working at her computer in her jammies.

I guess you could say I am “rigid” in that belief. But it does not mean I condemn responsible gun owners, many of whom I count as friends and family.
On the contrary, while I do not understand the “draw” of weapons, I accept the fact there are folks who value gun ownership and are accountable for the safe, respectful use of weapons.

That safe, respectful use of guns used to be the purview of the National Rifle Association. According to a recent Washington Post column by Michael Rosenwald, “The NRA was founded in 1871, not to support gun rights or the Second Amendment, but to ‘create an organization that promoted [skillful] rifle shooting on a scientific basis.’”

Karl T. Frederick, an early NRA president, was a sport shooter in the 1920 Summer Olympics. He won two gold medals as a member of the American team.
In subsequent testimony on the National Firearms Act of 1934, he said, “I have never believed in the general practice of carrying weapons. I seldom carry one.”
Furthermore, he once wrote the issue of self-defense and guns “lies in an enlightened public sentiment and in intelligent legislative action,” as “it is not to be found in the Constitution.”

Wise words, no matter one’s opinion on gun control.

Fast-forward to 1977, when the NRA’s influence grew significantly. According to a recent Business Insider article, the NRA then “ … began to align with conservative members of Congress to push for more relaxed gun regulations … “

All one has to do to gauge the power of the NRA is follow the money:

In the 2016 election, it supported Donald Trump by running campaign ads to the tune of $11.4 million. Meanwhile, it spent $19.8 million lambasting Hilary Clinton.

Sen. Marco Rubio, a Florida Republican, has received more than $3.3 million in career campaign donations from the NRA. But he trails the major recipient by more than half. The winner at the trough is Sen. Richard Burr, a North Carolina Republican, who has received nearly $7 million over his political career.

That kind of money cannot help but buy support for the NRA agenda. The financial strength of organizations lobbying for greater gun control legislation pales in contrast.

Every Town for Gun Safety, an organization formed after Sandy Hook, is bankrolled mainly by former New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg.

In addition to gun control advocates, its advisory board lists business and military leaders, mayors, law enforcement professionals and survivors of gun violence. The organization, which reports a national membership of 4 million, tends to support gun legislation on a state-by-state basis.

So, where is the common ground?

According to a 2014 Pew Research poll, 74 percent of Americans support making private party and gun show sales subject to background checks. Majority support even extends to households counting an NRA member.

Can that provide common ground from whence we can begin? It’s a small step, but one that could help us work toward “ … enlightened public sentiment and … intelligent legislative action.”

I will be the first to admit the NRA is right in one respect: Gun control advocates will want more, including legislation banning bump stocks and even assault-style semi-automatic rifles like the AR-15.

But for today, let’s begin with background checks for all firearm purchases. Could we agree on that?

There is urgency in our voices, because the nation cannot tolerate continued slaughter of our children. It is profoundly disturbing that we even have to say those words aloud: “slaughter of our children.”  

Will you come to the table for them?

Comments

Rumpelstilzchen

Perfectly reasonable, but a bit behind the times for Oregon. Ms. Sollars is trying to kick in an open door, as Oregon has had universal background checks for ALL gun transfers, commercial or private, in place for a few years now. No loopholes.

macgreg

That is correct

Rotwang

How about no. Stop pressing the "children" button to promote your political agenda.

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