Guest Column

What is your reaction when you hear the words gun violence awareness, or gun safety, or gun sense? It is important to understand that none of these has anything to do with gun control, or taking away guns or denying Second Amendment rights.

What they have to do with is reminding people that gun violence is at a tragic rate in the United States, and that it is everyone’s responsibility to be aware of the importance of universal background checks, of making untraceable “ghost guns” illegal, and of storing guns unloaded and locked.

Here are facts to consider. There have been 231 mass shootings in the United States in 2021. Over 4.5 million children live in a household with a loaded, unlocked gun. According to the Deschutes County Suicide Data Report, youth suicides in Deschutes County have almost doubled from 2000-17, and 56% of all suicides were accomplished with a gun. Federal, state and local governments are spending an average of $34.8 million EACH DAY to deal with the aftermath of gun violence. Gun violence-related deaths in 2020 will likely exceed 40,000, a rate of 12.3 gun deaths per 100,000 people. This translates to the highest rate of gun deaths in the last two decades. It is estimated that there was a 64% increase in gun sales in 2020 over 2019.

What can you do?

Put aside politics and understand that this is a safety issue for all communities. Unfortunately, the word “control” is thrown about by politicians, the media, and the NRA. But gun sense is not gun control. Most gun owners are very responsible and understand the importance of safe storage. But children are curious, and in 2021, there have been 93 unintentional shootings by children, resulting in 36 deaths and 62 injuries nationally. I cannot think of anything more tragic.

Wear orange. June 4 is Gun Violence Awareness Day, and the following weekend is known as Wear Orange. It is a time when gun violence prevention supporters and advocates wear orange to honor the victims of gun violence and show support for the gun safety movement. This national movement began in 2013 when 15-year-old Hadiya Pendleton was shot and killed in Chicago just one week after she performed at President Obama’s second 93 inauguration. Orange was her favorite color, and it is the color hunters wear to protect themselves from gunfire. I am grateful to the Deschutes County commissioners and Bend City Council who endorsed Gun Violence Awareness Day proclamations. Wear orange this weekend.

Go to for research and more facts. Everytown Research and Policy “conducts independent, methodically rigorous research, supports evidence-based policies, and communicates this knowledge to the public.”

Contact your United States legislators and urge their support for universal background checks.

Join Moms Demand Action Oregon on Facebook. Moms Demand Action is a grassroots movement of Americans fighting for public safety measures that can protect people from gun violence.

If you own guns, store them locked and unloaded. There are methods of safe storage that still allow for quick access if necessary.

Taking a few extra seconds is worth a child’s life, or the life of someone who might impulsively consider suicide.

Recognize the role of guns in suicides. Over the past decade, the US firearm suicide rate has increased by 13 %. This trend has been of particular concern for children and teens, whose firearm suicide rate has increased by 59 % over the past ten years, and for veterans, who have a firearm suicide rate 1.5 times higher than non-veteran adults.

Above all, please remember that the definitions for the words safety, sense and awareness are exactly what they say they are. Let’s keep our families and loved ones safe by being aware and using good sense in order to prevent gun violence.

Heather McNeil lives in Bend.

(5) comments

Thomas Who

The real intent of this law is not to increase public safety for the citizens of Oregon. There is nothing in this law that begins to reduce of control the violent behavior of criminals and the mentally ill who misuse firearms. The real intent of this law, passed at the behest of the extremely powerful and well-funded anti Civil Rights, anti gun lobby, is to make otherwise law abiding citizens into criminals through noncompliance. Any person who uses a firearm for self-defense against a home invasion is now the law breaker, not the victim. Which, if convicted, would result in that person losing their right to own firearms. This law is a complete invasion of citizens’ right to privacy. Hopefully the National Rifle will step in to bring this matter to court, just as the American Civil Liberties Union would do if this law were a restriction on the freedom of speech.


Gun violence is a liberal term used with your false statistics. Liberals hate facts that show most gun crimes occur in democratic cities.


Children are killing people unintentionally every week with a gun. The stats mean that a child has unintentionally killed someone every week with a gun in this country in 2021. And another almost three people are unintentionally injured by a child each week with a gun in the US.

Smedley Doright

Number of deaths for leading causes of death: in 2018 per the CDC:

Heart disease: 659,041

Cancer: 599,601

Accidents (unintentional injuries): 173,040

Chronic lower respiratory diseases: 156,979

Stroke (cerebrovascular diseases): 150,005

Alzheimer’s disease: 121,499

Diabetes: 87,647

Nephritis, nephrotic syndrome, and nephrosis: 51,565

Influenza and Pneumonia: 49,783

Intentional self-harm (suicide): 47,511

If we are serious about reducing preventable death, there is easier, lower hanging fruit to be had. But its not as exciting as taking something away from someone with whom you disagree.

Ban's for the children.

Thomas Who

When you hear the words gun violence awareness, or gun safety, or gun sense? It is important to understand that none of these has anything to do with controlling or reducing the violent or criminals behavior and everything to do with anti-gun activist placing restrictions on citizens Second Amendment rights.

Welcome to the discussion.

Keep it Clean. Please avoid obscene, vulgar, lewd, racist or sexually-oriented language.
Don't Threaten. Threats of harming another person will not be tolerated.
Be Truthful. Don't knowingly lie about anyone or anything.
Be Nice. No racism, sexism or any sort of -ism that is degrading to another person.
Be Proactive. Use the 'Report' link on each comment to let us know of abusive posts.
Share with Us. We'd love to hear eyewitness accounts, the history behind an article.