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Guns on the Street

Where do we draw the line on deadly weapons?

Guns are so entrenched in American culture that Vice President Joe Biden warned “there’s no silver bullet” to stop the killing. Lane County has gun lovers, gun haters and everything in between. EW hit the street and a recent gun show at the Lane County Fairgrounds to find out what people think about guns. 

If you buy from a private seller at a gun show or anywhere else, no background check is needed. If you buy a gun from a licensed dealer at a show, you must undergo a background check. A recent gun buy-back in Seattle turned up a missile launcher, and concealed weapons permit applications in Oregon are skyrocketing, but permittees, while required to take a safety class, aren’t required to know how to shoot. Do Oregon and the rest of the U.S. need to tighten up gun laws or is it true that “guns don’t kill people, people kill people”?

Photos by Todd Cooper.

 

Michael Zilkowski

57, retired veteran in Army and Marine Corps

What do you think about gun ownership? 

I think everybody should have the right to defend themselves, their family, and taking away our right to possess guns is wrong. 

 What kind of feeling do you get shooting a gun?

Well, ever since I was a boy, pulling the trigger and smelling the cordite in the air and the adrenaline rush, it’s just an excitement. If you go hunting and stuff, being able to outsmart your big game or whatever you are stalking, and doing that with a firearm, that’s awesome.

Should there be mandatory safety classes when purchasing a gun?

When I was a kid, every boy by the age of 12 had to go through hunter safety course to know how to properly handle a firearm. So, yeah, I think people should learn how to use a firearm right.

Do you think there should be background checks for purchasing firearms? 

It depends on the firearm, really. If we are talking about assault weapons, yeah, I do. If we are talking about hunting rifles or survival rifles, no, I don’t because what a lot of people don’t realize is when you go into the gun shows the U.S. Marshals and the ATF [Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms] are surrounding, walking around, so they know who is not supposed to be there purchasing firearms.

The NRA recently came out and said, “The only thing that stops a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun.” What do you have to say about that? 

The NRA has been trying to get me to be a member for years and I don’t agree with their philosophy and all that stuff, no. I think the NRA is an overbloated system that needs to be checked itself.

 

Patty Sand

46, bank teller

Do you think there should be restrictions on who can purchase firearms? 

Guns sold to the general public? I don’t think there should be any restrictions on it, but I do think there should be a background check, definitely. But I don’t think anyone should be able to tell us whether we can have guns or not. 

According to our gun laws, people can buy guns privately and at gun shows without undergoing a background check. 

I don’t think that is right. I think that is a little unsafe because what could happen is that gun could be sold and that person could do something bad with it and it will go back to the person who originally registered and bought the gun. They may not be the bad person. I do think there should be background checks done whenever a gun is sold. 

What about mental health checks? 

Well, you would think that would come up on a background check. We do background checks where I work. I guess if they just started to go cuckoo it wouldn’t be on record, but definitely, that would be caught on a background check, I’d hope. 

The NRA said, “The only thing that stops a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun.” 

Exactly. I say amen. That’s right. That’s why we have concealed handgun classes to be able to protect from the bad deeds that are going on in the world.

 

Lilly Smith

14, student 

Angelica Sanders

16, student

Austin Daniels

13, student 

Do you think owning a gun is a right?

Sanders: It says in our Constitution “right to bear arms,” so it can’t be that bad, I mean, depending on the person.

Would you consider owning a gun?

Daniels: No.

Smith: I would consider it because what if someone is going to kill you? It depends on where you are living.

If someone got you a gun, what would you do with it? Would you sell it, would you use it recreationally or keep it for defense?

Daniels: I would sell it.

Sanders: I would keep it by my bedside. 

Smith: I would use it to shoot cans in my own time. 

Do you think there should be mandatory safety classes for gun owners?

Sanders: No, because it’s just like common sense of how to use a gun, what you should and shouldn’t do with it.

 

Ricky Parker

27, marketing agent

Are you interviewing me because I’m black? [Laughs]

Do you think gun ownership is a right? 

I think it’s entitled to us by the U.S. Constitution, and states shouldn’t limit federal laws. 

In light of the recent shootings in Newtown, Conn. and Clackamas, do you think there should be restrictions? 

There has been gun violence since the gun was invented. A gun was created to do what? Not hunt. We were hunting before the invention of guns, so it was to kill humans. If you want to stop gun violence, stop manufacturing guns. 

Would you consider owning a gun? 

I’m not a gun-toting individual. I think it detaches society from the value of life. The idea of it, the premise behind it, it kind of carries negativity, although it may be preferred for protection. There are various other methods to protect yourself. Like I said, guns were made to kill humans. As to recent school violence, that’s not recent to me. I’m from Los Angeles. School violence has been going on since my birth. Now it’s being nationally publicized. It’s a big problem, but it’s been a big problem. 

According to our gun laws, people can buy guns privately and at gun shows without undergoing a background check. What do you think about that?

Having a background check doesn’t make the person behind the gun a sane individual. People respond differently in different situations. There’s a situation where a sheriff killed his entire family. I’m pretty sure he passed a background check, matter of fact he was given a government-issued gun. He still didn’t do the right thing with it. Inevitably, it comes down to the person who has the gun, and there is no way to measure a person unless, hypothetically, you can measure every situation that person may go through in life. He may use it on himself. That in itself is violence. 

The NRA said, “The only thing that stops a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun.” What do you have to say about that? 

I think that is today’s law enforcement practice. Stop criminals with guns by giving police bigger guns, but you fail to realize they are all human. And they all have that human element, the yin and the yang. There is no perfect human being on this planet, so, no, I don’t agree with that. It’s like “an eye for an eye.” If you want to solve the gun problem, stop manufacturing guns. How are these military-grade assault rifles making their way to the streets? So you want to stop all the things that are happening in society, you are going to have to manage those who are in power. Inevitably, I don’t think that’s going to get done anytime soon because, guess what, if you try, they will use a gun. [Laughs.]

 

Cassie Constantine, 15, student

Mikaila Kohle, 15, student

Ida Foster, 18, student 

What do you think about gun ownership? 

Foster: They protect people because the zombie apocalypse is coming. 

Kohle: People who have been in prison should not be allowed to buy guns. You shouldn’t be able to go get a gun just because you want one. You should have to do something to get it, like be important or something. 

Would you consider owning a gun? 

Foster: Yeah. 

Kohle: Yeah. I’m underage but when I’m 18, yeah. 

Constantine: Yeah. Fuck yeah. 

Foster: I am 18, almost 19. I am down to get a gun. 

Why would you own a gun? 

Foster: Because there are crazy people out there. I think you should be able to defend yourself. 

Constantine: OK, I would own a gun so the motherfuckers don’t fuck with me. I would shoot them if they tried to touch me. 

Foster: Because there are a lot of rapists out in Eugene and everywhere, you know what I mean?

Constantine: I’d shoot them in their toe. I don’t think stupid-ass people should have guns. 

Foster: People that have felonies or anything should not be able to have a gun, whatsoever. 

People are allowed to buy guns privately and at gun shows without a background check. What do you think about that? 

Foster: Honestly, I think you should do a background check.

Constantine: Maybe you should change the law so that you have to have a background check. I’m thinking about some of the homies that have guns. 

Foster: Well, they do it illegally. I’m talking about legally.

The NRA said, “The only thing that stops a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun.” 

Foster: Honestly, I don’t know what to say about that.

 

Chris Holloman

60, retired car dealer

I’m a gun owner, collector and a shooter. I don’t hunt. 

The law says people are allowed to buy guns privately and at gun shows without undergoing a background check. 

I’m fine with that. It’s a free enterprise. I believe that if you buy through a dealer, you should have a background check, but in general person-to-person sales just like person-to-person automobile sales or if you sell a rifle to your cousin or whatever then it should be legal. I think those rights have been protected by the non-commerce clause in the Constitution since the beginning, so that’s a right that citizens have. Just like you could sell garden poisons to your neighbor that could inflict harm on somebody, and that’s perfectly legal, too.

Do you think there should be mandatory safety classes for gun owners? 

I don’t really think so, no. If the question is based on crime and mass shootings, mentally ill people are not going to take a safety class; criminals aren’t going to take a safety class. Most hunters and shooters have probably taken a safety class and those aren’t the problem. What we really have a problem with is if you look at all the instances of people involved who have had mental health issues. Starting in the 1960s in the U.S. we dismantled our mental health, all of our apparatus, what we called insane asylums, and now the hospitals have limited venues for those with mental health issues. If you do buy a weapon through a background check, it asks if you have had mental health issues, and I think writing that into the commercial exchanges for firearms is just fine. I don’t know any gun person who would disagree with that. As an example, it is against most current privacy laws to notify government branch of someone who is violently unstable. I think those laws should be looked into. 

Right now, a physician is prohibited from notifying the state police and the state of Oregon that does the background checks that somebody is violent or violently unstable or a threatening, menacing person. So, the mental health laws notifications are the first things that should be changed, rather than restricting law-abiding sporting people or target shooters. I shoot target with an AR. I’m not a violent person, but it’s the most accurate weapon in the world right now. I shoot paper with it. 

The communities with the most restrictive gun laws are the major crime centers in the U.S., so we are talking about D.C., Chicago and Detroit. Virtually no law-abiding citizen can purchase a firearm in those communities. They are the highest in gun crime. So the criminals know if they attack a law-abiding citizen, he is not armed, he is helpless. If we look at all the mass shooters at schools and everything, those are gun-free zones. If we look at Israel, educators in schools are armed. They have armed people on premise. Nobody goes in there because usually a mentally unstable person wants to inflict harm, not receive harm. Obviously, a lunatic who would shoot up a school wouldn’t go into a gun show or a sheriff’s department or a police station and do a mass shooting because that’s not their focus. So the mental health issues in the U.S. need to be reformed first because all of these people are sick. It’s really hard to restrain a person with mental health issues. It’s terrible. Usually 48 hours is all the law allows, so we need mental health issues resolved before we infringe on the Second Amendment rights of law-abiding citizens that are doing legal activity and harming no one. 

The NRA said, “The only thing that stops a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun.” 

That’s absolutely true. It’s been proven in a lot of shootings. There was just a shooting at the Clackamas Mall here in Oregon and a guy went in there and shot two people, when he was confronted with a civilian with a concealed carry permit, who drew his weapon — it wasn’t really reported on — when the assailant was confront by an armed citizen he ducked around the corner and shot himself. Now, he had lots more ammunition and would’ve shot up a lot more people. When he was confronted with someone else taking his life he did what all shooters do in these instances and took his own life. 

If someone is shooting innocent people, I have a concealed carry permit and I have been trained. If someone is shooting innocent people, I will shoot them.

 

Jennifer Reynolds

20, student

What do you think about gun ownership? 

I feel like people should have guns because it’s not the guns that are killing people, it’s the people. I don’t see it as a problem as most people do. … Like the Connecticut shooting, I feel like that guy that did it just walked into an elementary school and started shooting little kids, and that’s not right. It’s the guy that killed the kids, not the gun. And I believe that, for security purposes, people should have guns. I’m sure once I turn 21 I’m going get some sort of firearm to carry on me because you never know with the world these days. If someone comes up and starts whacking on me and abusing me, I’m going to pull my gun out, and they are probably going to walk away. I wouldn’t want to shoot anybody, but if it is my own life that is in danger, then I probably would. 

 … A lot of people do own guns and a lot of people are mentally psychotic and decide that, ‘Hey, I’m not having a good day so I guess I’ll go shoot people just because I can.’ But it’s that person that’s doing it, not the gun. 

According to our gun laws, people can buy guns privately and at gun shows without undergoing a background check. What do you think about that? 

Again, I don’t see it as a problem. A lot of people are good people that have guns. One of my friends, she’s a girl, she has a gun and a perfect background: never killed anybody, never been in jail, never abused anybody. She has a gun for security purposes in case something were to happen to her. 

At certain points, I guess if they kind of have a look to them you could say a background check is needed — if they are looking fishy about it or not asking enough questions about the gun, just being like, “Oh, I need this gun. I don’t want to know about it, I just need it.” 

… It kind of depends on the person and not everybody needs a background check, but certain people should.

Do you think there should be safety classes for people who purchase guns? 

Yes, I do, because, like, back in Alabama a father left his gun on the table or something and his little kid picked it up and shot himself. The gun should have been on lock, but wasn’t, and I believe everyone should have a safety class before using a gun, regardless. I shot a gun for the first time about two months ago, and I shot a shotgun and then a pistol when we went up into the mountains. I was like, “Oh my gosh, a lot of power.” I didn’t have a safety class, but the guy I was with knew what he was doing. He was like, “Here you go” and I was like, “I really want to shoot a gun for the first time,” so I did, but if I were to actually buy a gun and have a gun with me at all times, then yes, you should have a safety class. 

The NRA recently said, “The only thing that stops a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun.” 

That’s a hard one. I don’t know, that’s a hard question. I’m in psychology; I should know something like that. I feel like, at the Connecticut shooting for instance, an officer with a gun and then a bad guy with a gun, you know. I’m sure the officer would not want to shoot the guy if he really had a choice in the matter, but it’s his job and if he continues the bad choices that he’s making then of course the officer is going to have to shoot him because he can’t keep killing all of these people. 

 

Art West

59, retired police officer

Do you think there should be mandatory safety classes for gun owners? 

Well, that’s a good question. I think safety is obviously critical and important. If someone is going to own a firearm they need to be responsible, number one. I wouldn’t have a problem with mandatory safety classes. I think anyone who is responsible would consider that without any problem. 

Do you think there should be restrictions on what firearms can be purchased? 

It’s going to be hard to decide which is and which isn’t. Who becomes the arbitrator of if this is OK or if this isn’t? When you talk about assault or something semi-automatic, you are talking about a majority of pistols because they are semi-automatic, so that would take you back to only revolvers, which is interesting, being a retired police officer. 

Do you think there should be mental health checks before purchasing a firearm?

I wouldn’t have any problem with that being required at all. I have a sister who was convicted of murder because she killed a person, and she suffers from mental illness. However, her choice of weapon was an automobile. She ran the guy over, intentionally, and killed him and is currently serving time in California in a mental institution because she was deemed guilty but for reason of insanity. So the mental illness aspect of it really hits home with me. I think that is very important to understand, but in the broader picture mental health needs to be an issue that is addressed to an even greater degree, beyond just the owning and purchasing of firearms. I can tell you, as my experience as a police officer, is that the mentally ill were just kind of brushed aside because nobody wanted to deal with it until they committed a crime and then law enforcement would have to deal with it. A lot of that could have been prevented with better mental health. I think that’s a whole discussion, our treatment of the mentally ill, right there. 

The NRA said, “The only thing that stops a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun.” 

I think guns are a great deterrent. Again, as a retired police officer, I have seen it. I had a situation where a guy was coming at a subject with a knife and he shot him because he happened to have a gun. Saved his life, and the other guy died. It’s tragic when anyone dies. When you are at the scene of a death, it is tragic, no matter if it was a good guy or bad guy, or whatever you would classify as a good guy or a bad guy. The loss of life is horrific.

I was at the Thurston High School during that tragedy as well and, believe me, you don’t ever want to be involved in something like that. I thought that it was ironic that the person that disarmed the shooter was a Boy Scout. He had taken a firearms class and knew when he pulled the trigger and the gun would click he was out of ammo and would have to reload, and that’s when he knew it was time to take action. So, again, we talk about responsible ownership, but that was a case, with that whole family dynamic, that situation was just a shame. The loss of life, believe me, I’ve seen dead bodies, good guy, bad guy. You say bad guy, but that’s just a human being. What transpired in their life to bring them to this point? To me, that’s the tragedy. Loss of life is always terrible, but if it is you or the other person you want to have an equalizer. I don’t think anyone should keep you from having an equalizer if that’s the situation.

 

Rick Jackson

60, retired ironworker and gun merchant

Do you think gun ownership is a right? Do you think people should be allowed to have guns?

I don’t think there should be a restriction on the purchasing of guns, but I do think there should be a limit on the capacity of ammunition that people can carry because you are not going hunting with a 20-round clip. Those things are to kill people, and that’s it. I mean, we sell up to a 60-round drum. What else are you going to use it for? As far as constitutional rights and everything, I understand the NRA’s point of view because I have dealt with them a lot, but they want it to where you can buy anything you want. A Sherman tank, if you had deep enough pockets, sure. But that’s not how it should be. You are sort of using the other guy’s rights now. So I’m kind of in the gray area, sort of. I’m not pro or con. But I appreciate the right of owning firearms for protection and sport. 

Do you think there should be mandatory safety classes for gun owners? 

Yes, absolutely. Absolutely. I’m down with that. I’m also down with the extended profile checks. That’s what the big deal is about right now. I mean, they are slamming the president because he wants to do something and nobody’s got an idea what to do, and they aren’t getting anywhere, so he’s got to try to do something and they are going, “No, no, no, no, another one of your deals.” Like I said, I’m kind of stuck in the middle. I understand people have their rights but I also think that just because you have that right to do something doesn’t mean you should abuse that right. 

People can buy guns privately and at gun shows without undergoing a background check. What do you think about that? 

If you are an adult, over 21, and you go to a gun show you still have to go through a check. There is a check right there, immediately. If you are a wanted felon, if you have outstanding warrants, I mean, it’s not nearly the check that it should be. I don’t think it is nearly efficient enough. I don’t know what they call it, an on-board check, if you come on board and you want a weapon you get this little check and most people will pass it. I don’t know if there is any relevance going on with this sporadic shooting, but if a person is going to do that type of stuff they are going to do it anyway.

The NRA said, “The only thing that stops a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun.” What do you have to say about that?

That’s just their demented mindset. They figure an eye-for-an-eye, and that’s the way they play it. Live by the sword, die by the sword. I think they really appreciate promoting violence, other than the fact that there are people who like target shooting and like hunting, like I do.

I understand the constitutionality part of it, but I really think this is getting out of hand. This country is just raised on violence from day one. We are just stuck with it. I don’t know if there is any end in sight.

 

Ken Wheeler

57, retired

Do you think people should be allowed to have guns?

I really never thought much about it. I think there should be restrictions to keep these insane shootings from occurring.

Do you think there should be a mental health check and safety classes attached to purchasing a firearm?

Yes. Yes.

Would you ever consider buying a gun?

No, no, I don’t need one, not in this town. It’s a pretty safe town.

According to our gun laws, people are allowed to buy guys privately and at gun shows without undergoing a background check. What do you think about that? 

That’s the rule? No, you should have a background check. I think so, to prevent a mentally ill person from going berserk and shooting people. 

The NRA recently came out and said, “The only thing that stops a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun.” What do you have to say about that? 

Oh, well, I don’t agree with that. It’s kind of a macho attitude. It will allow overly macho people to take the law in their own hands and kill people, and I don’t think that’s right.

 

Naeem Clark

28, Red Lobster employee

Do you think people should be allowed to have guns? 

I mean, it’s part of their rights as Americans.

Would you consider owning a gun? 

I do.

And what do you use it for? 

Nothing, really. Protection. 

Do you think there should be safety classes attached to purchasing a gun? 

Yeah, yeah, that makes sense. I’m 28 and I started shooting when I was in boarding school in Kentucky when I was 12, so I guess I’ve already had the training or whatever, but yes, it would make sense for people to have to have a safety class. My mom got shot in the leg by her brother when she was 14 because he was cleaning his gun in his room and it shot through the window, so a safety class would help out a lot.

Do you think there should be mental checks? 

I mean, I guess as much as you could, but how much could you really screen somebody mentally? I’m manic-depressive. You wouldn’t have known that unless I told you, so people have mental fits at different times. They probably wouldn’t be having a mental fit when they go get a gun.

According to our gun laws, people are allowed to buy guns privately and at gun shows without undergoing a background check. What do you think about that? 

 Now, that’s garbage. I didn’t know that. Yeah, I moved up here from California about eight months ago, but yeah I think there should be background checks.

 

 

Autumn Beauchamp

39, PCA Worker and teacher of a movement class at Laurel Hill

Do you think people should be allowed to have guns?

I think it’s a freedom, but nowadays I don’t know if it’s the right thing to do because mankind requires clarity in their psychology and their psyche. And I feel like guns are being misused and it’s damaging life.

Would you consider owning a gun? 

No, but it depends on the situation. If you were out in the country and had to protect yourself in some way, but I don’t think just anybody should be able to own a gun.

Do you think there should be safety classes for people who purchase guns? 

Yeah, that would be good. More than safety: why you desire to have a gun. Maybe an interview to have people checked out a little bit before they have a gun.

According to our gun laws, people are allowed to buy guns privately and at gun shows without undergoing a background check. What do you think about that

I think that’s not a good idea, yeah. I don’t think that’s a good idea at all.

 

Ashley Camacho

24, child-care provider 

What do you think about gun ownership? 

That’s a tricky subject, isn’t it? I think we should be careful who has guns. I wish we didn’t need guns at all, but since they are out there people believe they need to protect themselves. 

According to our gun laws, people are allowed to buy guns privately and at gun shows without undergoing a background check. What do you think about that? 

Yeah, we should get background checks on everyone who has a gun.

Do you think there should be safety classes for people who purchase guns? 

That’s a good idea.

Do you think there should be mental health checks? 

That’s a very good idea. 

The NRA recently came out and said, “The only thing that stops a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun.” What do you have to say about that? 

Oooh. Hmmm. What do I think about that? You can fight violence with non-violence. I wish guns didn’t exist at all, but it’s not a perfect world so I guess we should just be picky about who has them. 

 

Laura Lee LaRoux

33, store-owner

Do you think gun ownership is a right? 

Yes, because it is a free country and we should be able to own guns, especially if there’s people who own them, whether it be government or some other authoritarian force. I feel like everyone should be on the equal playing field with that. 

Would you consider owning a gun? 

Yeah, sure. 

Do you think there should be restrictions on who owns them? 

Oh, yeah. I definitely think that most of this gun stuff, to me, in my opinion, comes down to mental health, mental instability. I definitely think you should have to pass certain restrictions before you can own a gun, and I don’t necessarily think people need to own really crazy, wild AK-47s or whatever. I think they should if they want to, but there should be levels of what kind of gun you should have.

According to our gun laws, people are allowed to buy guns privately and at gun shows without undergoing a background check. What do you think about that? 

I think that’s pretty wild because that’s placing the opinion of the person selling, who is obviously trying to make money and might not necessarily care who they are selling a gun to. So, I think that’s pretty important.

The NRA recently came out and said, “The only thing that stops a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun.” What do you have to say about that? 

Well, I think the key words there are “the only thing.” I definitely think that it is something, like if someone was coming into my house with a gun and I had a gun, too, I guess that would be the good guy-bad guy gun thing, but I don’t think it’s the only way. 

 

 

John Heintz

56

What do you think about gun ownership? 

I think it’s for responsible sportsmen only.

So there should be restrictions on who is able to own a gun? 

There should be restrictions as to the purposes of owning guns and the types of guns. 

According to our gun laws, people are allowed to buy guns privately and at gun shows without undergoing a background check. What do you think about that? 

I think I am opposed to that. I think that’s an inexcusable loophole. 

Would you ever consider owning a gun? 

No. 

Do you think there should be safety classes for owning guns? 

Yes, definitely. Well, for hunters, they need to know how to navigate in the field so they don’t shoot other hunters or other people in the field rather than the animals they are hunting.

The NRA recently came out and said, “The only thing that stops a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun.” What do you have to say about that? 

It’s very difficult to sort out the good guys from the bad guys. 

 

Mary Wall

59, physical therapist 

Jane Bird

90, retired occupational therapist

Do you think gun ownership is a right? Do you think people should be allowed to have guns?

Bird: I think it is unnecessary. We don’t need to arm ourselves, and I think the more guns the more violence there is going to be. I mean, the Europeans think we are nuts. 

Do you think there should be safety classes corresponding to gun use? 

Bird: Yeah, but I don’t know in a really bad situation if they had a safety class and a gun whether they would be protected. 

Wall: No one is mindful all the time. 

Bird: That’s too much of a burden. I’ve lived for a long time and I see where our society is just getting more and more brutal. I think it’s pretty sad. It’s like living in a police state after a while. 

According to our gun laws, people are allowed to buy guns privately and at gun shows without undergoing a background check. What do you think about that? 

Bird: I don’t think that should be allowed. At least it might weed out some people who shouldn’t have guns, but who knows. There is so many deranged people, and people who are totally lacking in responsibility. I don’t know how effective [background checks] would be.

Wall: Violence begets violence. 

The NRA recently came out and said, “The only thing that stops a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun.” What do you have to say about that? 

Wall: I heard that. That is inane, stupidity, ignorance, total ignorance. 

Bird: Get rid of the guns. 

Wall: Exactly. 

Bird: I heard an interview with a British journalist who is traveling in this country and he’s just appalled at the number of guns and the violence. He said in Europe, guns are for the government to keep track of, not for the average citizen. 

 

 

Shelda Murray

59, phlebotomist

What do you think about gun ownership? 

I think that if you keep people from buying a gun the only people that are going to have guns are criminals, and I honestly believe that. 

Do you think there should be mandatory safety classes attached to the purchasing of a firearm? 

Mandatory? No, not mandatory. Why? Well, if I buy a gun I’m pretty sure I’m going to know how to use it. 

But there are a lot of people who don’t. 

Well, there’s a lot of people who don’t know how to drive but still have a license. 

What about mental health checks? 

Well, the thing of it is that you can always have somebody get angry and fly off the handle for anything. And who is to say you are not going to get angry and shoot me in a month? You are perfectly sane now, but who’s to say you are in a month? 

The NRA recently came out and said, “The only thing that stops a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun.” What do you have to say about that? 

I don’t know. I never heard it. 

 

Michael Black

44, truck driver

Do you think gun ownership is a right? 

Well, as a citizen, we have our Second Amendment rights, which applies to everybody, but, with the type of weapons that are out there, there should be some sort of screening before people are allowed to just purchase a weapon. Right now, you can buy from a private party with no checks; even in the state of Oregon, you don’t even have to register the weapon. 

Most states you don’t have to register a weapon. But as far as our Second Amendment rights go, the purpose of the Second Amendment was to protect against government tyranny, which has controlled the people. That’s kind of happening now with gun laws. I mean, you can’t just take individual happenings and place it on everybody. Most everybody that owns guns are responsible. Of course there are people who shouldn’t have them, and there are laws that prohibit felons from having guns. But as far as imposing what you can and what you can’t have, it’s not right. But certainly there should be a screening before you are allowed to go out and openly buy a gun. 

According to our gun laws, people are allowed to buy guns privately and at gun shows without undergoing a background check. What do you think about that? 

I’m going to say no. I mean, because it is our right. Everybody has the right to bear arms, and there is a bigger picture as to why that was brought up. Are there problems with that? Yeah, there are always problems with any sort of law that you have, somebody’s going to disagree with it or there might be a downside, but there is more of an upside, I think, than a downside. When the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor — I was just reading an article a couple of days ago — the reason they say we weren’t invaded was because most of the Americans were carrying firearms. I mean, it’s a deterrent, safety-in-numbers type thing.

The NRA recently came out and said, “The only thing that stops a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun.” What do you have to say about that?

I think that’s true. We’ve got a lot of ex-military people in the populous and that should make people feel good. There is a lot of people out there that would openly jump if they were put in a position, and were armed. Like some of the high-profile shootings that have occurred, if there would’ve been the right person there with a weapon I can guarantee it would have been a different outcome. There are just people who react and do that stuff. 

 

Lynn Dryden

51, Realtor

Do you think there should be mandatory safety classes for gun owners? 

Actually, I think everyone with a firearm should have to go through training for them. I think everyone has a right to have a firearm to be able to protect themselves. They are a valid need anymore. 

According to our gun laws, people are allowed to buy guns privately and at gun shows without undergoing a background check. What do you think about that? 

I don’t think what you said is entirely true. As a private individual, you are right, there isn’t a background check. If you are at a gun show, yes, you have to have a background check. Privately, it would be a very difficult thing to do. I’m in property management and I know Mom and Pop folks out there that have properties can’t do background checks, either. So it would be a very difficult thing to institute. 

The NRA recently came out and said, “The only thing that stops a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun.” What do you have to say about that? 

I would have to agree with that. If someone pulls a gun on you, what are you going to do if you can’t protect yourself? The police won’t show up until after a crime is committed. 

 

Hailey Medicine-Crow

19, Army

Do you think gun ownership is a right? Why or why not? 

I’m pro-gun. Me and my sister grew up around guns. Me and my sister have been hunting for years. Everybody I know has had a gun. If you live in the country and didn’t have a gun there was something wrong with you. 

Do you think there should be mandatory safety classes for people who own guns? 

Yes, I do because I feel like a lot of people are uneducated on how to use a gun properly. And if they don’t know how to use it, clean it, just be careful with it, I think it is useless to have one. 

According to our gun laws, people are allowed to buy guns privately and at gun shows without undergoing a background check. What do you think about that? 

I feel like felons shouldn’t have guns, so anything that keeps felons away from weapons that’s probably a good thing. I was given a background check when I got a shotgun recently. 

The NRA said, “The only thing that stops a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun.” What do you have to say about that? 

I feel like that is absolutely correct. The media, you see all these horrible things about Aurora and Connecticut. Connecticut, gosh, was horrible, nobody should do that, but, however, you don’t see stories about how cops save the day. You don’t see that story because that’s boring. People don’t want to hear about that, but it happens everyday, so, yeah, all for the good guys having guns, all the way. 

 

Steve Tindal

43, manager

Do you think there should be mandatory safety classes for people who own guns? 

I think gun safety is important, no matter what. I don’t know what the requirements should be, but I believe gun safety is important. No, I don’t think there should be a required safety class. I think safety stuff is what parents teach their kids. 

The NRA recently came out and said, “The only thing that stops a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun.” What do you have to say about that? 

I don’t think anything stops a bad guy with a gun. My thoughts on that are that firearms are already here in the United States and there is no way to limit them. It’s too big. 

Would you like to see some limitations as to which guns can be sold to anyone? 

My thought on firearm sales would be something that would relate to whether the person is stable or not, mentally. 

Do you think there should be mental health checks for people who purchase guns? 

I’ve heard that proposed, but I don’t know how that is possible. That’s the problem with all of this stuff: it all sounds good in theory, but I don’t think that it is realistic. 

 

Jason Beland

31, fork-lift driver

Do you think gun ownership is a right? 

I think I’m pro-gun. If the person is responsible, that’s what the whole debate comes down to. I enjoy guns for recreational purposes. I don’t really hunt. I just like to get out and do some target shooting, enjoy the skill of it. It’s tough, the debate going on. I know there’s a lot of mixed opinions, but, yeah, I mean, if you are a responsible person that’s where the debate really falls. 

Do you think there should be mandatory safety classes for people who purchase firearms? 

Oh, yeah, definitely. I enrolled in a hunter safety class when I was 14 and had my first gun before I was 16 and completely knew gun safety and all that stuff, so, definitely. 

What about mental health checks? 

Yeah, that, just like a background check, is important. Again, there is a lot of gray area as far as mental health, so, again that is something that falls on the individual, but yeah, I don’t think it’s a bad thing at all. 

The NRA recently came out and said, “The only thing that stops a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun.” What do you have to say about that? 

I think there is a lot of truth to that. I think if there were a lot more responsible people that carried and knew how to use responsibly, and more people knew that there was people carrying there would be less people prone to violent crimes on the street. 

Do you think there should be restrictions on what guns people can purchase? 

I do believe that the states have their rights to make different restrictions on what they believe is safe. As far as what you are allowed to fully carry in public, I mean there is some weight and some truth to the fact that there should be limits on what should randomly be carried, but as far as restrictions on what can be bought and sold I think that falls under an amendment right. There’s a lot gray area to that one, too. 

 

James Deejn

44, musician

Do you think gun ownership is a right? Why or why not? 

I’m not pro-gun or anti-gun, I just won’t own one. I don’t hunt. The only hunting I do is with my guitar strings. I make snares and what not. For people that own guns, they enjoy them. I know people who love to shoot. I know people who put food on their table with guns. I know people who shoot people with guns, so there is no bad guns there is just dumb people. 

Do you think there should be mandatory safety classes for gun owners? 

I really think that if you are to own a gun that you need to be informed about the use of the gun, the potential dangers of the gun, but yeah, I think the good experiences I have had with guns are because I took a hunting education course and know my way around a gun. I’ve got no qualms about using one if I have to, but, like I said, I have no reason to own one. I make music, not shoot people. 

According to our gun laws, people are allowed to buy guns privately and at gun shows without undergoing a background check. What do you think about that? 

Oh, you should do some sort of background check. You don’t want somebody who has been convicted of armed robbery nine times coming in and buying a .38 special. 

What about mental health checks? 

Well, that’s a pretty gray area right there. If you have mental problems and you take your medication, then you are OK, you know, legally. 

The NRA said, “The only thing that stops a bad guy with a guy is a good guy with a gun.” 

I think in some cases that is true. I mean, if the bad guys have guns and good guys don’t, we’re screwed. Hell, I actually think that if they did it right, everybody over the age of 18 should be issued a gun, required to wear it, and see how many problems we have then. Everybody educated about the gun, everybody with a sidearm, you piss me off bad enough I can shoot you, you can shoot me. Once we get past all the BS, bad guys would be afraid to pull out there guns because the good guys have guns. That’s just my opinion, but I wouldn’t own one anyway.