The East Oregonian’s Aug. 7 editorial (America is in a public health crisis) was disappointing. After lamenting the carnage of the latest mass shootings, it quickly absolved guns of blame, then spouted a “best hits” list of NRA talking points, touching on everything but the guns that do the killing.

Many of those talking points have merit and deserve attention, but ignoring the “tools” that make mass killings predictable is a bit like acknowledging the West Nile virus is a problem while excusing the mosquitoes of any culpability.

It’s wonderful the EO agrees solid research is needed into the underlying factors of gun violence — something the NRA and its congressional minions have successfully blocked for decades. What research has shown is the countries and states with the most guns have the most gun deaths (2015 study by Adam Lankford, University of Alabama).

There are actions that can and should be taken beyond decrying social media and the lack of robust mental health services. An obvious example: A strong majority of Americans, including a majority of NRA members, support comprehensive background checks, yet Congress (specifically the Senate and its obstructionist majority leader) has refused to vote on or even discuss such a measure.

The EO editorial implored us to look at all the issues contributing to gun deaths. Absolutely. Looking at everything but the guns and large-capacity magazines used in mass shootings isn’t the answer, any more than focusing solely on keeping guns away from those most likely to spread havoc (the angry, deranged or irresponsible). We need to do both.

Hal McCune


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