Oregon Gun Bills Heard Today Would Not Have Stopped Sandy Hook.

April 5, 2013


Oregon lawmakers will hear testimony today on a package of gun bills (list sandy_hook_victimsbelow) that have survived the legislative process and whose sole goal appear to be to harass legal concealed handgun license holders. 

The bills were trotted out as a response to the Sandy Hook Elementary School shootings. Cease Fire Oregon and their personal lackey, State Senator Ginny Burdick, blew the dust off the covers of the bills and cynically began circulating them through the Oregon State Capitol within hours of the shootings.  Channeling Rahm Emanuel, they cynically thought Aha, here’s our chance let’s not let a crisis go to waste!

The bills were horrible. Worse, not one of these bills would have stopped a crazed man from bursting into a school and shooting children. Not one. In fact, they made it more likely that such a thing could happen by disarming people on school grounds. Among the parade of horribles: limiting to one the number of hand guns an individual could have and making illegal most of the pistols now on the market. Subjecting citizens to spot checks of their homes every year! Not allowing law abiding concealed handgun licensees from carrying their guns onto school campuses. Reducing magazine capacity. Why? To give the unarmed CHL holder a chance to not shoot the bad guy when he reloaded?

The bills left standing are these (thanks to Oregon Firearms Federation and Fr33dom Arms for the brief descriptors):

Senate Bill 347 – Makes it a Class C Felony for a concealed handgun license (CHL) holder to carry a firearm onto school grounds unless the school district or other entity controlling the school grounds has an adopted written policy authorizing an exemption for CHL holders.

Senate Bill 699 – Bans concealed handgun license (CHL) holders from carrying in the state Capitol unless they receive written permission from the Legislative Administrator.

Senate Bill 700 – Criminalizes private transfers of firearms with others excluding immediate family. Such background checks would either have to be conducted directly through the Department of State Police or a through a licensed gun dealer, who may charge an unspecified fee. What’s more, the Department of State Police would be required to maintain the background information they obtain for a period of five years! Such “universal background checks” are enforced by gun registration that enables future gun confiscation.

Senate Bill 796 – Requires that an individual applying for a Concealed Handgun License must first “pass” a comprehensive firing range test.

Excuse me, but what do any of these bills do to stop a school shooting? Would Kip Kinkel have been more acceptable if he’d had a CHL and been required to pass a comprehensive firing range test? Or, being the criminal that he is, would he ignore the law and go ahead and murder his parents and shoot kids in the cafeteria at Thurston High School? 

How would the gun census that Burdick proposes have stopped Sandy Hook? 

The bottom line here is that Ginny Burdick is using the recent school shooting tragedy to attempt to pass laws whose sole purpose is to harass gun owners because she has an irrational fear of guns and she wants to be seen as doing something. No doubt Cease Fire and Brady provide her with campaign donations every election cycle as well.

Burdick is like the mom who puts her daughter on lock down because another kid down the street snuck out one night.

Put another way by the US Supreme Court Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr.,

Great cases like hard cases make bad law. For great cases are called great, not by reason of their importance in shaping the law of the future, but because of some accident of immediate overwhelming interest which appeals to the feelings and distorts the judgement.

The Sandy Hook shooting was horrible. These laws will not redeem those children’s lives. Those 20 children’s lives have been snapped off, like someone ripping a daffodil off its stem leaving a jagged stub.

The parents must now live with the woulda, coulda, shoulda’s in life because their children are dead. I know all too well that feeling and its lifetime of fall out because of my daughter died, in this case of chicken pox, and I and my family have been left with those same questions. What if there had been a vaccine available at that time? Could we have gotten her a heart transplant in time? Where would she be going to college now? What would her sticky up red hair have looked like now? Would her sister be different and happier if she’d lived? Furthermore, I know that I wanted to do anything in my power to make sure her death was not in vain. I lobbied for a vaccine–which was coming anyway–and I wanted to make sure people stopped deliberately exposing their children to this potentially deadly disease. I suppose we could have lobbied for a bill outlawing chickenpox or forcing parents to vaccinate their children but that would have been impotent and foolish and taken away the parents’ choices for their children.

Yesterday I heard some of the parents of Sandy Hook take comfort in the passage of laws against legal gun owners in Connecticut. They intimated that it felt good to something. Those laws will do nothing to stop the next school shooting as long as schools remain gun free zones. 

Their efforts might be better spent raising funding and awareness about mental illness, violence and autism. That will only occur to them later when the fog of their grief has lifted and after they’ve chipped away at constitutional rights of citizens who had nothing whatsoever to do with the killing of their children. 

In Oregon, Ginny Burdick should remember that too.