I am from Oregon. Close relatives on both sides of my family still live in communities throughout Oregon. My father was born in Roseburg. I could not help but reflect on the mass shooting of October 1 that killed eight students and a teacher (and wounded nine others) at Umpqua Community College.
Roseburg is a gun-friendly community in a gun-friendly state. A lot of people are armed, including some near the scene of the Roseburg shooting. In nearby Josephine County, voters have refused for years to fund the now decimated Sheriff’s department. People in Josephine County, I was told by a cousin living in next-door Jackson County, are arming themselves in the absence of police protection. The Sheriff and his one deputy will not respond to calls for assistance except in a life-and-death situation, which motivated a frustrated caller to drive off homeless squatters by firing his shotgun into the ceiling of the barn where they had holed up. At least that is the story I heard from a relative who lived near the barn in question.
We have all listened to the seemingly endless debate over whether gun ownership makes us more or less safe. Often the argument is advanced with statistics aimed to prove one side of the argument over the other. I am persuaded that the statistics used to support the case against widespread gun ownership are more reliable than those the NRA uses to defend gun ownership. I believe that one’s chances of being harmed or doing harm increase significantly with ownership of a firearm. (more…)