In the standard campaign process of filling out endorsement questionnaires and working with the hardworking organizers around Oregon, I received an endorsement questionnaire from the National Rifle Association (NRA) that I will not answer. This is due to the unprofessional political threat they implied in their request: “If you choose not to return a questionnaire, you may be assigned a “?” rating, which can be interpreted by our members as indifference, if not outright hostility, toward Second Amendment-related issues.”
In general, I will happily speak with most any group – conservative, liberal, ‘off-center’ group, etc., given a level of professionalism and earnest dialogue. While disagreements come with all groups, I have not experienced ‘political threats.’ Thus, I will briefly share our position on gun rights without playing to the NRA’s ‘smoke and mirrors.’ Gun rights are not a central facet of our campaign, though I recognize it has social significance to many.
Here are my views, generally stated:
- I do not support a total ban on guns or ammunition.
- I don’t assume that because something works in California, that it can or should be implemented in Oregon.
- I do not support any repeal of concealed handgun licenses.
- I support reasonable regulation, licensing and expanding training requirements for gun ownership.
- I support certain qualifiers that would disallow some individual gun ownership. For example, background checks, locking up guns while not in use in homes, and closing the “boyfriend loophole.”
- I do not support the ability of municipalities or sheriffs to inviolate state and federal checks on gun ownership and use.
- I would vote for some version of a 1994 assault weapons ban if put forward in Oregon.
- I do not think it is an accepted or historically accurate interpretation of the 2nd Amendment to the Constitution to imply a literal, all encompassing ‘right’ to bear any type of firearm to individuals; nor is this a suitable principle for civil society.
We have to recognize the difference in recreation, economics, and tradition in different areas. That is legitimate. I do not come from a gun owning family, it was not something we did as a family for recreation, etc. Thus, if I don’t exercise empathy and the willingness to learn, research, and understand the amount of regulation, licensing, sportsman accountability, quotas and tags in place; we may paint guns with a solitary picture of tragic violence associated in cities and schools.
All this said, the focus on the 2nd Amendment has become a source of ‘personal identity,’ the single issue vote that can be used to divide workers and voters on the basis of personal animus, cultural wars and fear. This has become ‘smoke and mirrors’ on the part of many GOP candidates and politicians, to hide the concentrated power of the upper-middle class, the rich and corporations – and the lobbyists.
We deserve better than political games.
Economic development, reductions in income inequality, and the opportunities for all communities to live the lives they love should be our goals.
We can do this together.