Gun Laws & Legislation

Oregon’s Lawmakers Focus On The Wrong Issue

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Guns and Gear Contributor

By Joshua Underwood

We’re proud to call Oregon our home. We appreciate that Oregonians don’t quite follow the same footsteps as others. That’s why the firearms we make at Radian Weapons aren’t ordinary. They’re the very best we can make from Oregon, by Oregonians.

Imagine our surprise when we learn our lawmakers in Salem are following other states in considering legislation to ban entire classes of rifles and ammunition magazines. We’re told this will reduce the criminal misuse of guns. We have a different view.

We’re a small-business gun-maker, making rifles for law-abiding Americans who value quality, their rights and the ability to choose the firearm that best suits their needs for hunting, recreational shooting and self-defense. We employ 40 Oregonians who care deeply for their communities and want real solutions. These proposals, though, aren’t it.

The ideas being considered in Salem have been tried and shown to miss the mark. This legislation will not reduce criminal misuse of firearms. It will, however, erode our legal right to buy and own the firearms of our choosing.

Our employees, and Oregon’s gun owners, hunters and recreational target shooters are law-abiding, contributing members of our communities. We should all do our part to help reduce crimes committed with firearms. To do that, we must be able to see the problems clearly and identify real solutions that will make our communities safer.

Those who follow the law aren’t the problem. Today’s law-abiding gun owners are our neighbors, friends and family. We know that women are the fastest growing group of hunters and gun owners. We also know that the modern sporting rifle that is intentionally mislabeled and wrongly vilified as an assault weapon is uniquely adaptable. It’s a rifle that meets the needs of today’s target shooters and hunters. More than 16 million of them are legally owned by Americans, and they are increasingly used to harvest wild game that feeds our families.

The problem lies with criminals who would prey on our communities. They don’t care about the law. A U.S. Department of Justice surveys tell us they illegally obtain their guns, either through theft or on the black market. Criminals fire less than four rounds on average in the commission of their crimes, far below the arbitrary 10-round limit being discussed in Salem. Law-abiding Oregonians should never be put in a position where criminals have the advantage in an attack.

The ideas being debated in Salem aren’t new. Congress put in place a so-called Assault Weapons Ban from 1994 to 2004. The Centers for Disease Control found it had no demonstrable effect on crime. In fact, the overall crime rate continues to fall, even as firearms ownership grows. Today, the modern sporting rifle that some of Oregon’s lawmakers want to ban is the most popular selling rifle.

Restricting the rights of those who obey the law does not make our communities safer. But there are measures our lawmakers can support that have proven to be effective. First, we must ensure our state is submitting all disqualifying mental health and criminal records to the FBI to make the national background check system work as intended. We can urge our community law enforcement to educate gun owners to properly store their firearms when not in use through free gunlock programs like those funded by the firearms industry. We must insist authorities lock up criminals who would illegally “straw purchase” guns for those who can’t because they’re disqualified.

When our lawmakers attempt to convince us we’re safer by restricting rights instead of putting criminals in prison, they turn a blind eye to addressing the problems. That’s why we at Radian Weapons, along with fellow Oregon-based Noveske Rifleworks organized and supported the “Defend the 2nd Rally” on March 23, at the Capitol Building in Salem. We urge all Americans to make their voices heard that our rights, and our safety, isn’t negotiable.

Joshua Underwood is the CEO at Radian Weapons, manufacturer of hand-assembled AR-15 rifles based in Redmond.