Saturday, January 25, 2014
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.