Letters on Gun Violence

The community reacts to the Parkland shooting


I stand with Parkland, Florida, in mourning the murders of 17 students and faculty members at their high school. I am heartbroken, but most of all, I am outraged.

In the past five months, America has experienced three of the 10 deadliest mass shootings. This is unconscionable. This is a uniquely American problem, and as Americans we are better than this. Parkland joins cities like Springfield, Columbine, Newtown, Charleston, San Bernardino, Las Vegas, Aurora and Orlando that have experienced firsthand the consequences of America’s inaction.

Like so many others that came before it, this tragedy was avoidable. When children go to school, their biggest worries should be math quizzes and deadlines for book reports, not whether bullets will rain down on them while they’re studying.

It’s time to change the conversation about guns in America, and that starts with each one of us asking hard questions and demanding accountability from our elected officials. We must demand a background check for every gun sale, call on our elected leaders to pass sensible gun laws that save lives without infringing on the Second Amendment, and start talking about the types of guns that are a common thread in so many of these mass shootings — guns designed for military use.

Curtis Taylor





With every school shooting, there are many victims. There are the direct victims who lose their lives or are wounded. There are also the bystanders and witnesses, law enforcement and first responders, family members and friends, hospital staff and local community.

Lastly, there are the family and friends of the gunman asking “why” and “what if.”

But there is an invisible victim every time there is a school shooting. The hundreds, maybe even thousands, of young people terrified to go to school. Children like mine, who routinely have nightmares about watching their friends be shot and killed. Children like mine, who worry that a classmate will one day turn deadly violent.

And parents like me, who wonder when we drop our kids off each morning if we will have the gift of picking them up at the end of the day.

This is unacceptable. These are preventable deaths.

We must move beyond vicious partisan politics to do what is right. We must convene experts and key stakeholders to work together to find real solutions to ending school gun violence in America.

I want people to be able to enjoy hunting. I want people to be able to defend themselves. Congress, do your jobs. End senseless gun violence and school shootings by banning assault weapons.

Ericka Thessen



You can do something. It takes just two minutes to call the congressional switchboard at 202-224-2131 and leave a message. It takes just two hours to attend a meeting for a cause you care about, maybe your neighborhood, schools, homelessness, political party, etc.

Or how about donating two hours as a volunteer? Just Google “volunteer Eugene” or “volunteer Springfield” to find out who needs you.

Imagine if everyone did that just once a month. How things would get better. Now do it.

And vote. Political change starts locally. The school board member you elect becomes your state legislator. The legislator becomes your senator.

Just do it.

Rachel Rich



President Obama ordered a gun violence study by Centers for Disease Control (CDC). The study concluded that self-defense can be an important crime deterrent and there was no evidence that gun restrictions reduce gun violence.

Anyone who does not believe me can pay $38 for her own copy. However, the CDC study ordered by Bill Clinton in 2003 came to the same conclusions and that one is free online.

The Clinton Administration also commissioned in 2005 a National Science Foundation (NSF) study that could not find a positive correlation between gun control laws and other measures after consulting 400 sources and doing its own research. The only dissent was detailed in Appendix A saying John Lott’s conclusion from his studies that concealed carry laws do drive down murder rates had in fact survived all attempts at reanalysis.

Here the dissenter referred to a 20-year study by John Lott and William Landes from the University of Chicago Law School. That and subsequent Lott studies the NSF reviewed correlated passage of concealed carry laws with large decreases in multiple victim shootings, and reduced harm when shootings did occur.

The Florida student’s emotional, asymmetrical reactions are simply useful political theater. A useful answer would be concealed carry on campus by school employees.

Harden the site and psychopaths will go elsewhere. People in a gun free zone can expect the same security as chickens in a Foster Farms processing plant.

Nolan Nelson


The First Amendment to our Constitution (freedoms of speech, religion, assembly) carries definite limits.

You can’t yell “fire” in a crowded theater, or commit slander or libel; you can’t engage in human sacrifice as part of your religious freedom; you have to get permits for large gatherings, etc.

“Arms” can mean what we hug our loved ones with; it also means weapons.

Those silly framers of the Second Amendment didn’t somehow have the foresight to specify exactly what they meant by “arms.” I’m quite sure they were thinking of muskets, and the other primitive rifles of their day.

But who’s to know for sure? It could be that they had great prescience, and were also considering not just military grade semi-automatic or automatic rifles, but also such weapons as poison gas, lethal microbes and even nuclear explosive devices.

By the logic of the noisy pro-weapons crowd, all of these would be permitted for personal use. Can these people begin to understand just how completely insane their posture is?

Scholars of constitutional law they most certainly are not — nor upholders of a most basic right to life.

Vip Short