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Editorial: Sheriffs buy into politics of gullibility

Gun deaths are a public health concern

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Posted: Thursday, January 24, 2013 10:00 am

Following the World Trade Center attack of Sept. 11, 2001, there was scattered freelance response around the nation. President George W. Bush cautioned Americans not to let their anger toward the Trade Center terrorists become bigotry toward Muslims. It was one of President Bush’s finest moments.

Here in Clatsop County, then-Sheriff John Raichl announced he would form an armed “civilian defense force” to patrol for terrorists. That lasted about a week until Gov. John Kitzhaber and the attorney general reminded Sheriff Raichl that only the governor was empowered to raise a militia.

Most sheriffs in Oregon enforce the law and run their departments competently. Our state has nothing like Arizona’s Joe Arpaio of Maricopa County, who has become a celebrity sheriff, notorious for his innovations in punishment.

But some Oregon sheriffs fired pre-emptory shots at President Obama, threatening not to enforce laws which they believe are not constitutional. Steve Duin’s column about these sheriffs appeared on this page Tuesday.

There are at least two elements of dissonance here. When we hear a sheriff saying he won’t enforce the law, there is a faint echo of what went on in the South over decades of the 20th century. Sheriffs in Alabama, Mississippi and Georgia looked the other way while white mobs lynched blacks.

Secondly, the sheriffs are buying into the politics of gullibility, which the National Rifle Association feeds. While President Obama has made no proposal to confiscate firearms, that is the constant thread in NRA talking points. And why not? It works on the gullible. And as many analysts have pointed out, the NRA is largely a creature of the gun manufacturers. The mid-20th century image of the NRA as a hunters’ and sharpshooters’ organization is obsolete.

Reckoning with gun deaths is a public health issue. When more than 30,000 Americans die of a certain cause annually, public health must pay attention and should fashion solutions. We used to accept higher death tolls from automobile accidents and tobacco. It must be remembered that automobile manufacturers fought safety measures as being too expensive.

Incremental choices, such as more extensive background checks and outlawing the kinds of mechanisms that are only about killing large number of people quickly, will make a difference.

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Welcome to the discussion.


  • River-Bear posted at 4:01 pm on Mon, Feb 18, 2013.

    River-Bear Posts: 399

    PappaLatte worries that: "The Democrats in the Senate today submitted a bill to confiscated weapons from you once you die." Isn't this what the NRA meant in their bumber stickers and slogan: I'll give you my gun when you pry it from my cold, dead hands"?

  • River-Bear posted at 3:57 pm on Mon, Feb 18, 2013.

    River-Bear Posts: 399

    I guess Jerry isn't a very good shot!

  • River-Bear posted at 7:25 pm on Fri, Feb 15, 2013.

    River-Bear Posts: 399

    False Logic:

    Comparing non-firearm methods of killing people to guns is a perfect example of the logical fallacy of false equivalence wherein one suggest that there is a logical and apparent equivalence, but when in fact there is none.

    It is sad and dangerous that gun-crazies believe the paranoid propaganda spewed by Rush Limbaugh, Alex Jones, the NRA and gun manufacturers. Constantly repeating false equivalencies about guns with automobiles, alcohol, marijauna, pick-up trucks etc. will never make the comparison true.

  • River-Bear posted at 3:21 pm on Fri, Feb 15, 2013.

    River-Bear Posts: 399

    Supreme Court Justice Scalia is an extremely non-progressive judge. Scalia has been described as the intellectual anchor of the Supreme Court's conservative wing. It is Scalia who wrote:

    “Like most rights, the right secured by the Second Amendment is not unlimited …. the right was not a right to keep and carry any weapon whatsoever in any manner whatsoever and for whatever purpose.

    “There seems to us no doubt, on the basis of both text and history, that the Second Amendment conferred an individual right to keep and bear arms. Of course the right was not unlimited …”

  • River-Bear posted at 1:43 pm on Fri, Feb 15, 2013.

    River-Bear Posts: 399

    For the gun loving crowd, ignorance is bliss .....

  • obmug posted at 6:14 pm on Tue, Feb 5, 2013.

    obmug Posts: 407

    Although the effort required would be enormous, perhaps the Second Amendment should be re-phrased to read "A well-regulated militia and the need to protect citizens from people like River Bear both being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear............"

    Seriously, Peterson MD is right on target (pun intended). If a 30 round clip is inherently malevolent and a clear and present danger, what makes a 7 or 10 round clip acceptable? Now reverse that argument,,,,,,what are you left with? A totally arbitrary and almost capricious standard. It's about as silly as Mayor Bloomberg's crusade against large soft drinks in New York City.

  • Jerry Flavel posted at 5:49 pm on Thu, Jan 31, 2013.

    Jerry Flavel Posts: 207

    I've never entertained the idea of joining the NRA, but after readlng your palaver it seems like a good idea.

  • Jerry Flavel posted at 5:48 pm on Thu, Jan 31, 2013.

    Jerry Flavel Posts: 207

    "These sheriffs are embarrassing themselves and Oregon."

    Poppycock! How can you state what another person feels such as embarrasment? Did they tell you they were embarrassed or did you just make that up? Oh, and I hardly think that you, of all people, can claim whats embarrassing to Oregon. You're not even an Oregonian so you miss on that one too.

  • Jerry Flavel posted at 3:33 pm on Wed, Jan 30, 2013.

    Jerry Flavel Posts: 207

    the high capacity magazines are used in predator, such as coyotes, control. We certainly dont want the government or anyone else restricting our right to have guns.

  • Robert D Peterson MD posted at 6:54 am on Wed, Jan 30, 2013.

    Robert D Peterson MD Posts: 160

    River-Bear. It is obvious you are quite passionate about this subject. But substituting emotion for logic and reason do not help with your argument. As long as you persist using demonizing generalizations, you undermine your credibility.

    Think about this: In Australia, which had low gun ownership to begin with, after their gun ban, home invasions by GROUPS of thugs have become a very scary threat to the general populace. When a property owner wants to be able to defend themselves against 2 or three invaders, they are going to need more than a 7 round magazine to defend themselves. When a rancher has a group of predators to protect his livestock from, a single bolt action rifle or a double barrel shotgun are not going to cut the mustard.

    You can find legal scholars to support both sides of this issue. Quoting one does not resolve the discussion.

    There are just a few more motor vehicles in the US than there are firearms. Both, when used responsibly, perform as important tools in our daily lives. Both, when used irresponsibly, lead to death and disability to about the same amount of US citizens annually. Attempts at solving the problems of irresponsible behavior with vehicles has only marginally been affected by billions of dollars in safety features and legal restrictions.

    We read here in the Daily Astorian at least monthly of someone with no license who has taken their own life or the lives of others to great peril by DUI. Is the solution to ban all cars and pickup trucks? Ban alcohol and marijuana? Confiscate all privately owned beer kegs (who needs more than a stein at a time anyways?)? Only allow the sale of beer in six packs of pony bottles and wine in single 16 ounce bottles?

    How are these (hopefully quite obviously ludicrous suggestions) different from your suggestions about confiscating all "assault" weapons, limiting "high capacity" magazines, etc.?

  • obmug posted at 4:00 pm on Mon, Jan 28, 2013.

    obmug Posts: 407

    I'll admit that the letter-writing by a few sherrifs has more than a modest amount of political showmanship and I grant that the 2nd Amendment rights (and the rights in other amendments) are not absolute. But what is the logic of your question? What weapon(s) were used in Oklahoma City by Timothy McVey? By Charles Manson and his followers? Jack Gilbert Graham? Nicholas Troy Sheley? George Hennard? Charles Starkweather? Is there any limit on what can be banned?

  • River-Bear posted at 8:48 pm on Sat, Jan 26, 2013.

    River-Bear Posts: 399

    VeteranUSA states that "Betsy Johnson understands the issues and will defend this right!" What exactly did Johnson say regarding this issue?

  • River-Bear posted at 8:44 pm on Sat, Jan 26, 2013.

    River-Bear Posts: 399

    Bad Seed - What the NRA is really all about:

    The NRA has been at the forefront of finding, exploiting and nurturing cracks in state and federal gun controls—just as it has created and publicized an exaggerated view of Second Amendment rights.

    In the 1990s the NRA began to challenge gun research, and its lobbying efforts choked off federal support for studies of firearms violence. “Gun use and gun violence is a public health issue, and it should not be out of bounds to ask questions about it” -- Surgeon General David Satcher.

    “The bottom line is the NRA is becoming a subsidiary of the gun industry," said Josh Sugarmann, Violence Policy Center executive director and principal author of ‘Blood Money: How the Gun Industry Bankrolls the NRA’. “The NRA is in bed with the industry for love and money", he said.

    NRA's chief lobbyist in 1996, Tanya Metaksa, told the Wall Street Journal: "The gun industry should send me a basket of fruit - our efforts have created a new market."

    When legislation was first introduced to ban “cop-killer bullets” (the only people using them were criminals who wanted to kill police officers wearing bullet-proof vests), the NRA opposed the ban, charging that the issue was a "media-made hoax." For some strange reason, policemen whose lives were threatened by the bullets, did not agree. Many police chiefs testified for the bill.

    In 1984, the Reagan administration proposed a compromise bill that would outlaw the manufacture and importation of cop-killer bullets. Finding themselves backed into a corner, the NRA gave in and said they wouldn't oppose the administration's bill.

    Plastic pistols are guns made from polymer or ceramic that have a few small metallic parts. So small, in fact, that they don't set off the metal detectors in airports and government buildings. They are potentially dangerous weapons in the hands of terrorists.

    When the U.S. Senate considered a bill to ban plastic guns, the NRA said they could not support a ban on plastic guns because there were no such guns so they weren't a realistic threat. They also said the bill was a back door effort to ban thousands of guns that already existed, even though the bill specifically exempted all legally owned guns.

    More than half a dozen people testified before the Senate that prototypes of this gun existed and that the technology was available to produce them in vast numbers. Senators also heard from police officers, the U.S. secret service, and airline representatives who testified that the proliferation of these guns would create dangerous security problems.

    Faced with this expert testimony, the NRA decided that plastic guns did exist, but that they had legitimate hunting purposes and shouldn't be banned. The NRA now denies that it opposed legislation banning plastic pistols.

    Other NRA-backed victories that have helped criminals and the firearms industry include:

    -- The 2003 Tiahrt amendment, named after former Rep. Todd Tiahrt, R-Kansas. It hampered the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives in releasing information on gun traces, making it more difficult for advocacy groups to detect gun-trafficking patterns and link purchases of guns used in crimes to particular gun dealers.

    -- Legislation in 2005 that immunized the gun industry from product liability lawsuits for guns used in homicides and other crimes.

    -- The McClure-Volkmer Firearms Owners Protection Act of 1986 that loosened restrictions on licensed firearms dealers and unlicensed individuals selling weapons at gun shows, and lowered barriers to interstate sales of guns, as well as ammunition, through the mail.

    The NRA has recently thrown its weight behind an industry campaign to deregulate and promote the use of silencers. Under the trade banner of the American Silencer Association, manufacturers have come together with the support of the NRA to rebrand the silencer as a safety device belonging in every all-American gun closet.

  • River-Bear posted at 6:52 pm on Fri, Jan 25, 2013.

    River-Bear Posts: 399

    Understanding the Second Amendment:

    It is sad and dangerous that gun-crazies believe the paranoid propaganda spewed by Rush Limbaugh, Alex Jones, the NRA and gun manufacturers. Gun nuts have their own version of American history and interpretation of the Second Amendment. For issues such as what the Second Amendment means, I prefer to go to a legal scholar and court cases.

    Geoffrey R. Stone is the Edward H. Levi Distinguished Service Professor of Law at the University of Chicago. The following is excerpted from Mr. Stone’s article, ‘Understanding the Second Amendment’:

    “Opponents of laws regulating the sale, manufacture and use of guns fervently invoke the Second Amendment. In their view, the Second Amendment ('a well-regulated militia being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed') forbids the government to regulate guns. Period. End of discussion.

    "But it is more complicated than that.

    " ... although the First Amendment seems absolute in its protection of "the freedom of speech," the Supreme Court has reasonably recognized that it does not guarantee us the right to say whatever we please, whenever we please, wherever we please, in whatever manner we please. The 'freedom of speech' is subject to regulation.

    "The same is of course true of the Second Amendment. Even if we agree that the Second Amendment forbids the government to 'infringe' the right to 'keep and bear arms,' that does not mean that the government cannot reasonably regulate the manufacture, sale, ownership and possession of firearms. Indeed, this is precisely what Supreme Justice Scalia said in his opinion for the Supreme Court in ‘Heller’*.

    "It is time for opponents of gun control to stop mindlessly shouting 'The Second Amendment!!' as if that ends the discussion. It does not. Just as there is no First Amendment right to falsely yell fire in a crowded theatre, there is no Second Amendment right to carry an AK-47 there.

    "And that is only the beginning of what the Second Amendment does not guarantee.”

    * District of Columbia v. Heller, 554 U.S. 570 (2008), was a landmark case in which the Supreme Court of the United States held that the Second Amendment to the United States Constitution protects an individual's right to possess a firearm for traditionally lawful purposes, such as self-defense within the home


    'Heller' Case Heard by the Supreme Court:

    The following are excerpts from Supreme Court Justice Scalia’s opinion for the Supreme Court in the ‘Heller’ case:

    “Like most rights, the right secured by the Second Amendment is not unlimited …. the right was not a right to keep and carry any weapon whatsoever in any manner whatsoever and for whatever purpose.

    “There seems to us no doubt, on the basis of both text and history, that the Second Amendment conferred an individual right to keep and bear arms. Of course the right was not unlimited …”

  • River-Bear posted at 6:47 pm on Fri, Jan 25, 2013.

    River-Bear Posts: 399

    What weapons were used at the Sandy Hook massacre?

  • River-Bear posted at 6:35 pm on Fri, Jan 25, 2013.

    River-Bear Posts: 399

    All assault weapons should be confiscated now! The first (now expired) assault weapon ban should have confiscated such weapons. There is no justifiable need for such weapons unless you want to use a gun to kill a lot of people at fast as possible.

  • VeteranUSA posted at 9:44 am on Fri, Jan 25, 2013.

    VeteranUSA Posts: 18

    That just shows your ignorance of Semi-automatic weapons. I have many that are designed simply for the hobby and fun of target shooting. Tell me where the founders mentioned hunting? They did not. Millions of owners of these weapons are just everyday citizens who love the hobby and defend there rights! Your comments are beyond ignorant and factless. It was great to see that Betsy Johnson understands the issues and will defend this right!

  • papalatte posted at 8:00 pm on Thu, Jan 24, 2013.

    papalatte Posts: 1

    The Democrats in the Senate today submitted a bill to confiscated weapons from you once you die. They are also wanting all gun owners to be on a national registrar so we can easily be found, we would also be required to notify the federal government any time we moved the gun. Read the bill that was proposed today and you will see that the future confiscation of out guns is exactly what they are after.

  • River-Bear posted at 7:33 pm on Thu, Jan 24, 2013.

    River-Bear Posts: 399

    Assault weapons and large-capacity magazines are designed for just one purpose -- to kill people, lots of people, quickly. They serve no purpose in gun sports and have no value to hunters – unless the quarry is human.

    Many owners of assault weapons and high-capacity magazines are self-proclaimed patriots and defenders of America … Rambo wannabes … frightened paranoids ... murders looking for a weapon with maximum killing power … Some suffer from an unnatural preference for, strong feelings & attraction to or fixation on guns (object sexuality).

  • River-Bear posted at 7:03 pm on Thu, Jan 24, 2013.

    River-Bear Posts: 399

    The Oregon sheriffs who have written letters to the White House or their constituents and threatened to not enforce or permit the enforcement of any unconstitutional regulations or orders by federal officers concerning federal firearm rules that might infringe on Second Amendment rights are ignorant gun fanatics.

    These sheriffs are embarrassing themselves and Oregon. I bet their combined knowledge about what is unconstitutional could be put on the head of a pin.

    Anyone who believes that the Second Amendment prohibits the government from reasonably regulating the manufacture, sale, ownership and possession of firearms rights is uninformed.

    Like most rights, the right secured by the Second Amendment is not unlimited.

  • VeteranUSA posted at 3:48 pm on Thu, Jan 24, 2013.

    VeteranUSA Posts: 18

    Absoultely absurd logic based on false facts. [wink] The NRA is made up of over 4 million individual gun owning members. Dispite your propoganda this organization has a long standing tradition of supporting conservation, gun safety and education and support of law enforcement training. You comparison to civil rights defiance by Sherriffs with these fine law enforcement officials position on the Second Amendment which is a legal one is absurd and not based on fact or even common sense. The local Sheriff has no legal requirement to enforce any federal law nor are they required to enforce any illegal executive order. The nut jobs out there trying to fast food force more gun control on America are the ones not using any facts or good judgement. We tried a gun ban and magazine capacity limit for over a decade with no measureale effect according to the FBI. Wake up and get real. When we restricted drugs, alchohol or stealing did criminals listen? Some proosals are so absurd like the ones from Feinstein today that Obama stated weeks ago he supports which the NRA has been talking about make no sense whatsoever. A common gun for fun target shooting the Ruger 10/22 for example if it has an 50.00 stock with a pistol type grip added it will be illegal although no more dangerous in any way. Combating these types of lies and deceitful rules is a priority of the NRA. Most uninformed Americans actually believe a rifle was used at Sandy Hook which is not true at all!! Fix mental health, enforce existing laws and have our government stop selling real assault weapons to Mexican drug dealers.