By Suzanne Penegor
Gun control is a debate that is bipartisan in the sense that there are Democrats and Republicans who care about the Second Amendment and our right to bear arms. The National Rifle Association includes women and men of all ages and all political persuasions. It is a constitutional right we don’t take lightly.
So when recent mass shootings bring the subject up again, once more we are asked to give up our right to bear arms to protect ourselves from criminals or maybe from a tyrannical government.
The gun control debate has caused a boom in gun sales as Americans are concerned about Federal legislation that the Obama Administration is considering to restrict gun ownership. While the discussion of whether to again ban the sale of assault weapons will or will not make our country safer rages, we should also take a less simplistic look at why there are so many mass shootings.
Taking a broader look might include these questions: could there be economic factors related to the poor economy behind the shootings? Should we be looking at restoring funding for public mental health facilities? In our area we are still waiting for the Junction City mental health facility to open and, besides providing treatment, create local jobs in a tough economy. The addition of this facility would address both the mental health and economic issues noted above.
Thanks to cuts in public safety spending and early release of jailed criminals, county sheriffs are telling rural residents they may not be able to respond in a timely manner if they are victims of crimes. In response to this women are seeking concealed weapons permits.
Criminals will always get illegal guns. The young man who went on the rampage last year at the Clackamas Mall in Portland stole his gun from a friend. He did not go out and obtain it legally and he was not subjected to a legal background check.
Gun control, as it is often proposed, is a knee jerk reaction to a more complex problem. We should be looking at this bigger picture.
We should be entitled to defend ourselves as our forefathers intended when they created the Second Amendment – not only to protect ourselves against criminals in tough economic times, but also to protect our freedoms from a tyrannical government. We should have a Federal task force study the complex reasons that there have been more school shootings and mass shootings in the last 20 years. Blaming honest, law abiding gun owners won’t fix this important social problem.
Suzanne Penegor is an Oregon native, graduate of the U of O and a former local business owner