As the gun control debate roars back in the wake of the Las Vegas tragedy, the focus needs to be on what would make a difference, not on gaining political advantage, not on impugning the motives of political opponents.
Fifty-eight victims were killed and more than 500 injured in the horror in Las Vegas Saturday, in which police said gunman Stephen Paddock shot hundreds of rounds from hotel windows into a concert crowd below before killing himself.
Sadly, Gov. Kate Brown has been unable to rise above the gun control script. In responding to Bulletin reporter Gary Warner’s inquiry this week about possible gun laws, she blamed failure on politicians who “try to appease the mourners but then side with the NRA.”
There’s no room in Brown’s universe for principled opposition based on what might actually work without violating citizens’ rights. And we’re not just talking about their 2nd Amendment rights. In pushing Senate Bill 719 in the most recent legislative session, Brown and the Democratic majority decided to ignore questions about due process and danger for law enforcement, among other issues.
Those are critical problems with the bill, as detailed in a July Bulletin editorial. Brown signed the bill despite thoughtful opposition from Republicans, including Bend’s Rep. Knute Buehler, Brown’s likely opponent for another term as governor.
No doubt we’ll hear misleading statements throughout the campaign that blame Buehler for opposing gun control without acknowledging the legitimate reasons.
In the broader national debate, the consistent flaw in most gun control efforts is that they wouldn’t prevent the kind of event that prompts advocates to propose them.
In searching for common ground, the issue of “bump stocks” used in the Las Vegas shootings deserves exploration. The legal devices allow conversion of legal weapons into essentially fully automatic rifles, which are otherwise strictly controlled. Although there’s still much to learn about what happened in Las Vegas, it appears the use of bump stocks sharply increased the shooter’s ability to kill and injure. Opponents might find agreement in banning them and similar devices.