Even in Old West, prudence of gun regulation recognized

There are several adages about the difference between knowledge and wisdom. They include, “Knowledge is knowing that a tomato is a fruit; wisdom is knowing not to put it in a fruit salad,” and, “Knowledge is knowing that you can knock down the hornet’s nest ... with a stick; wisdom is knowing not to do it.”

In the case of Yamhill County’s gun sanctuary ordinance, it seems knowledge is knowing you can enact it, wisdom realizing that would be unwise.

Some practical matters:

1. Potential financial impact of putting the county into direct conflict with the laws of the state and nation.

It would be incumbent on the county to defend itself from any and all lawsuits challenging its action. This could prove very expensive.

2. Exposure to increased liability.

What if a county officer observing a person violating the state gun law refused to take action and that person proceeded to kill someone? Would the county be liable in a wrongful death suit? Would this put county officers themselves at risk?

3. Potential increase in the cost of liability insurance.

Would insurance companies charge the county more, knowing the risk of this kind of ordinance? I don’t know how the county is insured, but it seems like a possibility.

4. Putting county law enforcement into conflict with neighboring mutual-aid agencies.

What happens if the McMinnville Police Department or Oregon State Police requests county backup in the course of enforcing a state gun law? Would the county put their officers at risk by refusing? If so, what would this do to the working relationship between agencies? And if not, would this result in sanctions for violating county ordinance?

If you’re concerned about the state taking actions you don’t like, it would seem wiser to depend on legal and political challenges. There will no doubt be some the county could join, and it would be much cheaper for local taxpayers.

At a deeper level, have any of you seen what happens when a bullet hits a human being? Have you seen what a shotgun can do to the body of a child? It’s not the same as shooting a deer, putting down a dog or slaughtering a cow.

I ask because it’s important to understand that this ordinance would make it easier and more likely for someone to shoot another human being in our county.

It this really a priority for our county government? Is this really what we want the county doing? What pressing problem would this ordinance actually solve?

The county has enough real problems. It shouldn’t be wasting time with this issue.

The fact is, no one is going to come and take our guns away. That’s a myth propagated by the likes of Q-Anon, the Proud Boys, and Marjorie Taylor Greene.

I am a political independent raised in western farm country where guns were a regular part of my life. My family had three shotguns and three rifles in the gun closet, and I learned at an early age what to do and not do with them. I first shot a 30.06 at age 8 and could cluster a series of shots at 100 yards by age 12.

That being said, guns were respected as deadly instruments we needed to use as tools in the lives we led. There were strict rules about how, when and where they were fired, and violations carried serious consequences!

In our society, not everyone has this kind of structured upbringing. So it becomes important to educate and train people to use such deadly tools.

One of the reasons Old West towns barred guns inside city limits was to prevent gunfights stemming from impulsiveness, passion or drunkenness. They learned through sad experience that some rules were good to have.

It seems we might learn from our elders. We require training and licensing to drive a car, so some kind of training, education, and regulation would only make sense when it comes to guns.

This ordinance is dangerous. It will only inflame division in our community.

It does not promote our safety, our health or our well-being.

Mike Burr is an independent-minded McMinnville resident who grew up with guns.