This past week the local news reported the carnage from guns. On Tuesday December 11th a lone 22-year-old man wearing body armor, a hockey mask and carrying an AR-15 assault rifle walked into Clackamas Town Center Mall in Portland, Oregon and opened fire. Two were murdered, one 15-year-old girl seriously wounded and hundreds shopping were emotionally traumatized.
What I find surprising are voices from local politicians and the editorial page of our statewide paper the Oregonian, counseling that this not be the time to debate the societal causes of violence and the easy access to assault weapons. This is they say ‘ a time to heal, not a time for divisive debate’.
I agree that this is a time for coming together, a time for prayer and for expressions of compassion and kindness. Yet, I believe it is a disservice to the memory of those victimized by the violence, not to take up the difficult debate about the violent influences in our culture and the easy access to weapons.
This past presidential debate the Republican candidate upheld the 2nd Amendment to the Constitution as the right to own any and all weapons. President Obama was pointedly silent on the topic. Each time in the aftermath of a mass shooting, the counsel is not to raise the divisive topic of gun control. Proponents of the NRA hope that the emotions of the moment will dissipate and we will continue the status quo. Thus far their strategy has proven right.
However if you want to hear the voice for Gun Control, then talk to a first responder, a police officer, an EMT and most often you will hear a voice for limits. These first responders are the one’s who must risk their life in a nation that resists gun control. For example in 2010 there were 9000 murders by guns in the United States (and many thousands more wounded). In comparison in Great Britain which has restrictions on access to weapons there were 58 gun related murders. Even allowing for the difference in population that is a staggering difference.
As an Oregonian I’m standing with State Senator Ginny Burdick D-Portland who announced she will introduce in the 2013 legislature a ban on the sales of high-capacity ammunition magazines. The very kind used to kill and terrorize holiday shoppers at the Clackamas Mall.
Yes, this is a time to heal, to come together, to take care of each other, neighbor and stranger alike, to the best of our ability. It is also a time to say this pattern of gun violence must stop and stop now.