PORTLAND, Ore. – At the end of a week that brought tragedy to Reynolds High School in Troutdale, some Oregon lawmakers are renewing talks about guns in our society and whether laws in place are the answer to gun violence.
State Senator Ginny Burdick (D-Portland) is a longtime promoter of tougher gun laws, from universal background checks to a state law that would penalize parents if unsecured firearms get into the hands of their children and cause violence.
Burdick pointed to the shooter in the Reynolds incident as the latest example of why.
“What is somebody with a house full of kids doing with an AR-15 and hundreds of rounds of ammunition? That’s question number one," Burdick said. "Question number two is how on earth did they allow this kid to get access to this gun? They not only lost their son but another family lost their beloved son.”
State Representative Dennis Richardson (R-Central Point) said that now is not the time to politicize the gun control issue over the Reynolds shooting.
"I know Senator Burdick very well, she’s a nice person. I don’t think she has a good grasp of human nature and her timing is deplorable,” said Richardson, who is the Republican candidate for Oregon Governor in 2016.
Richardson said last year that school staff should be able to be armed to protect themselves and others. Today, he backed away form that somewhat, saying he wants school districts to decide for themselves on that issue.
He says mass violence involving guns is a complex issue.
“We need to make sure that public health and public safety are no longer separated. Over and over again, we see troubled teens that bring about mass violence,” said Richardson.
Burdick agreed, but said as long as the gun lobby blocks the discussion of the role guns play in the equation, the problem will persist.
“I say enough of that, this is too important, our kids are too important and we need to talk about it. We need to confront the fact that guns are big part of the gun violence problem and we have to do something about guns.”
Governor John Kitzhaber attended a vigil for shooting victim Emilio Hoffman earlier this week. So far, he has not granted KGW's request for an interview on this topic.