By editorial board • 

Boquist unafraid to take stand in memory of son lost to suicide

Senate Majority Leader Ginny Burdick, Democrat from Portland, is probably as closely associated with efforts to curb gun violence as any Oregon legislator. So her sponsorship of this year’s gun control cause célèbre, Senate Bill 868, would come as no surprise were it not for her co-sponsor, Sen. Brian Boquist, Republican from Dallas.

Boquist is a U.S. Army Special Forces veteran and longtime gun enthusiast with an impeccable gun rights record. In fact, he led the opposition two years ago when the Oregon Legislature voted to toughen its gun sale and registration rules. And his district is about as rural as they come on Oregon’s populous west side.

By contrast, Burdick is a former Associated Press reporter turned public relations operative. Her background is utterly urban and wholly devoid of military association.
What united this pair in a common cause was last year’s gunshot suicide of Boquist’s 31-year-old son, Seth, a veteran of U.S. Navy service. “I had the distinct misfortune of losing my own son,” the longtime senator told the News-Register in a front-page story. That, he said, made him “looking for tools to help us prevent suicides,” especially firearms suicides committed by distraught veterans.

The bill, modeled after a measure voters enacted last year in neighboring Washington, is designed to prevent mentally troubled individuals from gaining access to guns and ammunition they might use to take their own lives.

It allows members of the immediate household and larger law enforcement community to seek a court order blocking such access. To afford due process, it entitles the target of the application to contest its issuance in court, arguing the absence of sufficient grounds.

That seems eminently reasonable to us. But then we’re not dug in with hard-core elements of either the gun rights lobby or the Republican Party, which seem to largely overlap in these polarized times.

The Oregon Firearms Federation, which is at least as uncompromising locally as the NRA is nationally, was apopletic. Executive Director Kevin Starrett called the premise just one more misguided and unfair “demonization of firearms.”

Boquist countered, “A dozen Vietnam veterans kill themselves every day. We want to find a way to address this issue without getting everyone’s ire up. We’ve started marching down that road.”

Fortunately, Boquist has never lacked for courage. Judging from online comments appended to this week’s story, including one accusing him of drinking “the gun-grabber’s Kool-aid,” he’s going to need an ample supply.



If only the gun-grabbers would stop at the point where you want them to. But, it never happens. Personal issues notwithstanding, Boquist has become one more enabler, here trashing due process by turning it upside down - making the accused prove his or her innocence. I would expect better from someone with the letter R after his name. For this, he deserves to lose the next election.

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