Patrick L. Owen

My Voice

About the author

Patrick L. Owen, 62, lives in La Grande. He is a veteran of the U.S. Navy and a business owner.

My Voice columns reflect the views of the author only. My Voice columns should be 500-700 words or as space allows. Submissions should include a portrait-type photograph of the author. Authors also should include their full name, age, occupation and relevant organizational memberships. We edit submissions for brevity, grammar, taste and legal reasons. We do not fact check. We reject those published elsewhere. Send columns to La Grande Observer, 1406 5th St., La Grande, Ore., 97850, fax them to 541-963-7804 or email them to .

I cannot support any of the efforts to deny long guns to law-abiding citizens between 18 and 21 years old. These people are mature and dependable enough to serve in the military, be issued full automatic firearms and put their lives at risk to defend our freedom. If so, they are qualified to own their own firearms for hunting, self-defense and sport.

I don’t believe making further classes of guns illegal will help stop the violence occurring in our society. There are things that can be done to change some of the problems we are having, but the answers will likely be complex and expensive. If we hope to address the violence, we will have to address race relations, political and other polarization in our society, societal values, assessment and treatment of mental health issues and fully enforce existing laws (sending violators to prison and/or treatment for their crimes and issues).

We currently have the NICS background check system in place. If all government and law enforcement agencies follow through on their part of reporting all crimes and incidents to the proper federal authorities as required, then NICS will be sufficient to keep criminals and other unauthorized people from having legal access to guns. I would support NICS checks for private sales if the government covered the cost.

The banning or outlawing of things has never historically worked. The last major attempts at this were:

1) Prohibition: There was no drop in the use of alcohol, but it strengthened organized crime in our country (remember Al Capone?).

2) Marijuana: Now available everywhere and legal in many places, though still against federal law.

3) Prostitution: We know how well that has been eradicated.

The list could go on. It is currently against the law to commit assault, murder and mayhem, or for a felon to own a firearm, yet all these things happen on a regular basis. Apparently the laws against their crimes do not stop criminals. The only people these laws affect are the ones who already obey them. The people who want to ban some or all guns apparently believe that somehow these same people will obey new laws. I believe this thought process is ignoring facts at best, or is outright delusional.

Laws banning particular weapons will not stop people who are willing to break the law. They just restrict law-abiding citizens from free exercise of their rights, including the right to self-defense against the criminals that will be armed regardless. I believe it will also have the same effect that prohibition had, with a large portion of the population feeling it is all right to ignore the law, supporting a black market and feeding the bank accounts, power and social acceptance of those providing the banned merchandise.

The other thing that worries me is the continued increasing polarization this “simple solution” mentality creates. We ignore or put off the things that could actually affect the underlying problems instead of the symptoms. This polarization is dividing Oregon and the country. I worry that this polarization, which is dividing rural Oregon from the Metro areas and dividing our country in general, could lead to unrepairable schisms or outright civil war. We need to learn moderation and compromise again if this state and country are to heal and stay functional.

Gun bans are overreaching, divisive and a slap in the face to law-abiding gun owners. Restricting the availability of anything to the responsible majority to protect against the actions of criminals is repressive and counterproductive. There are millions of guns out there these bills would outlaw. There have been a very small percentage of them used in the crimes the gun laws are responding to. This is akin to banning cars or alcohol due to the loss of life attributed to them, without regard to the rights of those who use them responsibly.

The amendments are not laws. They constitutionally restrict laws from restricting our rights. Rights are not predicated on need, but exist independent of need. (Rosa Parks did not NEED to ride in the front of the bus, but DOES have the right to.) I’m sorry if anyone finds this fact offensive.