The Choice for Oregon

Kate Brown: Ducking Debates and Dodging Solutions

Bud Pierce: Talking to Oregon Newspaper Publishers and Offering Real Solutions

This past Friday Governor Kate Brown held a press conference with some other Democrats to announce new policies – unilateral executive actions and proposed legislation – to “end gun violence” in Oregon. This coming Friday, the Oregon Newspaper Publishers Association will host a debate for the two major candidates running for governor. I will be there, outlining my new vision for the state of Oregon and answering any and all questions from the newspaper publishers. Kate Brown refused to attend this minor tradition in Oregon politics.

There’s a connection between these two events, and it is this: press announcements are easy to make. Your facts, figures, proposals and political pronouncement aren’t directly challenged. Candidate debates are different. Your opponent has a chance to critique the statistics you use to make the case for your proposed solutions and even show that your proposed “solutions” really aren’t solutions at all. You’re accountable. It can prove awkward.

Consider proposals to “end gun violence” in Oregon. The governor said Friday that “2,280 Oregonians – an average of 456 people each year – died from firearm-related injuries between 2010 and 2014,” and that this justified the array of new gun-control executive orders and legislative proposals she advanced.

For starters, I think it’s important for the governor to make clear where in our state laws or constitution she gains the authority to take these executive actions. Lawless chief executives are becoming something of a trend at the state and national level; if you cannot get something through the legislature or Congress, you issue an executive order. I intend to hold to the rule of law – not the rule of chief executives – as Oregon’s next governor. Kate’s Brown’s unilateral moratorium on our voter-approved death penalty suggests that she’s less interested in the rule of law.

Also, I’d like to hear why adding to the 300 major, and countless minor gun laws in America and in Oregon will do anything more than impinge on the rights of law-abiding Oregonians. I’d like to hear evidence that the passage of additional legislation will do much to lower gun violence. In fact, there is none, and her solutions are not solutions. They may be good politics, but they’re not real solutions. They won’t end gun violence in Oregon. They wouldn’t have stopped the mass murders we’ve experienced recently in Oregon and other states.

The reason can be found in the very statistics Brown used misleadingly and disingenuously to make the case for her Oregon gun grab. Those “2,280 Oregonians – an average of 456 people each year – [that] died from firearms-related injuries between 2010 and 2014? It turns out that 378 were suicides (56 were homicides). “Suicide” is the problem here, and 90% of suicides are the result of diagnosable mental illness. More to the point, there’s no evidence that gun control measures will reduce suicide rates. In fact, the experience in gun-controlled Japan shows otherwise.

Advancing “solutions” that are not real solutions does a disservice to the public – on gun violence and other issues. It’s becoming something of a habit for Kate Brown, and Oregonians are poorer for it. When it comes to addressing gun violence, here are my (real) solutions:

  • Commit more resources to our state’s mental health services to ensure that in-patient and out-patient treatment facilities are adequate and Oregonians struggling with mental illness are not warehoused in our prisons or living on our streets.
  • Provide advanced technology, including video surveillance, to better protect our schools.
  • Initiate law enforcement monitoring of social media to identify and investigate legitimate threats to prevent threats from turning into actions.
  • Initiate a robust public service campaign to remind gun owners that with the right of gun ownership comes responsibility – that those who handle weapons must be well-trained and exercise the utmost care and safety procedures, and that those gun owners store weapons in an alternate location if they have individuals in their home who have mental illness.
  • Establish a system in which individuals can contact authorities if there is concern that gun violence may occur.
  • Give law enforcement the tools to thoroughly investigate situations brought to their attention, including the temporary authority to hold weapons, only if necessary in narrow circumstances based upon evidence that there is an imminent danger to the owner or others, in accordance with protecting their constitutional rights.

I’ll be happy to talk about these real solutions to gun violence when I talk to the Oregon Newspaper Publishers Association on Friday. Sadly, we’ll all have to wait to hear some real solutions from Kate Brown.