Tuesday, January 17, 2012

2011 in Review - Part II (what we've done)

In Part I of this two-part posting, I detailed the gun-related crimes from the Eugene area.  Now, let me turn to how our efforts were spent in 2011.

2011 was a very busy year for the Ceasefire Oregon Education Foundation.  First off, we celebrated the one-year anniversary of this blog, New Trajectory, which has helped us reach additional audiences and understand the pro-gun side better.

We have organized three gun turn-ins in Portland over the past 13 months, cosponsored by Portland Mayor Sam Adams, the City of Portland, and the Portland Police Bureau.  These events removed over 400 more guns from our community.  In the words of Multnomah County District Attorney Michael Schrunk, referring to our 16 years of gun turn-ins: "The past successes of the Ceasefire Oregon Gun Turn-in are significant.  Collecting over 7,500 firearms is not only commendable, but clearly marks Ceasefire Oregon as a success."

We hosted a dinner with distinguished guests in Portland, and we participated in the annual Safety Fair at the Portland Zoo.  We also continued to distribute ASK brochures, which encourage parents to ask whether there are guns where their children play.

We've had a busy year ramping up our activities in the Eugene / Springfield area.  Each of the last few years, shootings have been increasing, as I detailed in Part I of this two-part posting.

In May of 2011, Colin Goddard visited our area, giving presentations to local students and the public and showing a documentary about the shooting, entitled "Living for 32."  Young, handsome, charismatic, and humble, Colin proved to be an excellent advocate for sensible gun laws in our country.  Over the course of five days, Colin gave eight presentations to an estimated 877 people, including students at Thurston High School (site of the Kip Kinkel shootings), South Eugene High School, Oregon State University, and the University of Oregon, and in three cities (Portland, Eugene, and Corvallis).  He also gave interviews with two radio stations, three TV stations, and three newspapers.  Colin continues to tour America, speaking mainly at universities, but also giving presentations of the film and addressing Congress.

On Mother's Day, we were represented in the annual Million Mom March awareness walk in downtown Eugene.  With over a hundred attendees, including Mayor Kitty Piercy (a member of Mayors Against Illegal Guns), Colin Goddard from the Brady Campaign, and organizations such as Veteran's for Peace, speeches were made in honor of slain officer Chris Kilcullen, and then the marchers walked several miles along the Willamette River.  There was excellent media coverage of this event. 

In June, corresponding with National ASK Day, Ceasefire had a table at the famous Eugene Saturday Market to engage Market-goers. 

In late August, Ceasefire had a "car" in the Peace Train, where a number of local Peace groups form a train of moving plywood "cars" behind a  train "engine", each car decorated with the group's name and support for peace and non-violence, as part of the Eugene Celebration parade.

Finally, toward the end of the year, we had an information table set up at the Bijou Theatre's showing of The Interrupters.

in 2011, our legislative affiliate, Ceasefire Oregon, successfully opposed 25 dangerous bills introduced in the Oregon legislature which would have significantly weakened Oregon gun laws, some substantially.

Among the bills the gun lobby worked hardest to enact were bills that would have (1) permitted anyone with a concealed handgun license (CHL) from any state to carry loaded, concealed handguns in our state even if the person did not meet Oregon’s CHL requirements; (2) removed the Oregon State Police from conducting background checks for gun dealers, sending them directly to the FBI instead, and thus enabling Oregonians with serious mental health problems to nonetheless purchase guns (because their records aren’t in the FBI’s databases); and (3) required sheriffs to keep the names of CHL holders secret, thus ensuring that sheriffs could not be held accountable for their decisions regarding the granting of CHLs, precluding people with legitimate concerns about specific individuals from learning whether those people had CHLs, and preventing the media and other researchers from ascertaining exactly how many CHL holders commit crimes.

All those bills were defeated.  The gun lobby, in fact, saw only one of its proposals enacted, provisions regarding the carrying of firearms on ATVs, motorcycles, and snowmobiles.  Sadly, no sooner had that bill taken effect, when there was an accident where a rifle transported loaded and unsecured (as is now legal to do) was unintentionally discharged, wounding a hunter.

Formidable challenges to sensible gun regulation in Oregon in 2011 were also posed by the courts.  Pushed by an extremist firearms group, a case reached the Oregon Court of Appeals, which overturned a long-standing policy by the state university system to prohibit guns on the property of Oregon universities.  Bolstered by that decision, that extremist group is now bullying grade school systems to allow guns on their campuses.  Threatening endless lawsuits if they didn't comply, they persuaded the Newberg school system to allow concealed weapons there, despite an initial resistance by their superintendent and school board.  It is ridiculous that extremists are able to endanger our children in this manner.

In another strike against common sense, the Oregon Supreme Court also ruled that medical marijuana card holders could now be allowed to carry concealed weapons in public.  "Guns for Stoners" makes no sense, given that there is no law in Oregon prohibiting the carrying of loaded weapons if under the influence of drugs or alcohol.  It only becomes illegal when the trigger is pulled, but then it's too late.  Recently, the U.S. Supreme Court refused to hear the case, so this is how it will stay unless the legislature steps in.

So, as you can see, 2011 was a year of great strides in getting our message out to the public and opposing dangerous legislation, but more needs done to protect us against those who wish to roll back protections for the public.  We welcome any and all help you wish to give.