Oregons Senior Senator Advocates Better Background Checks but Insists the Greatest Threat

first_img on January 15, 2013 Oregon’s Senior Senator Advocates Better Background Checks but Insists the Greatest Threat to Our Nation is the Country’s Economic Weakness Twitter LinkedIn 0 E-Headlines Google+ Share.center_img Facebook By Jeff Spry, CBN Feature Writer Tumblr Email Senator Ron Wyden brought his political roadshow to Sisters on Friday afternoon for an old-fashioned Town Hall meeting at Sisters High School. Wyden said “If I had to describe my philosophy in one sentence it would be to cut and invest.  If you cut [unnecessary funding]and invest in areas like roads, bridges and transportation then that’s not moving money around, it’s being smart like a good business.”Battling a nagging cold, Wyden fielded a flurry of questions from a cluster of community activists and veterans, along with members of the school’s entire student body, who seemed grateful to be out of class for an hour regardless of the person on stage.Before taking questions, Wyden explained the purpose of these informal gatherings as something he pledged to the state when he assumed office back in 1996.“This is kind of a way of throwing open the doors of government,” he said.  ‘We’ve done over 640 of these Town Hall meetings all over the state from the time I’ve been in office.”Sisters veteran Tom Barrier was presented with a special Korean War proclamation that Wyden helped sponsor in Congress, declaring 2012-13 as the year of the Korean War Veteran.“Many of you have heard of what they call The Forgotten War,” Wyden said.  “Today we want to send a message that here in Oregon we will never forget and will always acknowledge the extraordinary contributions of our Korean War veterans.”After a short break, Wyden faced a wide range of questions from a handful of Sisters residents and a patient line of students inquiring on topics spanning the political spectrum, from gun control and gay marriage, to educational spending and environmental issues and deep concerns about school security in the aftermath of the tragedy in Connecticut.“People who are seriously disturbed have access to these weapons and that’s something that has to change,” he said.  “Anyone with severe mental health problems, whether they’re 15 or 50, shouldn’t have free access to guns.”Wyden advocates better background checks and stiffer penalties for gun owners who fail to lock up weapons from dangerous people as well as more government oversight when weapons are transferred from owner to owner.  Providing more complex screening devices to help recognize and identify potential threats before they occur is foremost on his mind.“It all amount to owner “gun-sense.”  There is no single answer here.”When one female student lobbed a pointed question regarding the senator’s stance on benefits for gay and lesbian couples, specifically his thoughts on gay marriage, Wyden fired back with a quick response.“My view is if you don’t like gay marriage, then don’t get one.”His statement received a rousing round of applause by the majority of the students in attendance, regardless of their interpretation.More students stepped up to the microphone, worrying about the fear of future school shootings.“I have three children under the age of six and I can’t even begin to imagine the horror of those parents,” said Wyden.  “I’m in the business of trying to find words to comfort people in those kinds of situations.”Asked about what the greatest threat to our nation, Wyden insisted it was economic weakness.“I don’t think there is a greater threat than that,” he declared.  “You can’t keep the country safe without the resources.  Most national security experts put that on the top of the list as well.”“If I had to describe my philosophy in one sentence it would be to Cut and Invest.  If you cut and invest in areas like roads, bridges and transportation then that’s not moving money around, it’s being smart like a good business.”In conclusion, as the appointed end of school time arrived, Wyden emphasized the importance of government with a more personal touch.“That’s why we’re doing so many of these Town Meetings in schools,” he ended, gesturing out into the rows of fidgeting students.  “You’re our future and we want to pass the torch to you.  We recognize the relationship between young people and this country’s bright future.”While the outward goodwill generated by these sorts of small town political chats may appear immediately obvious, it seems the chance to start their weekends an hour sooner was more of an attraction to the students comprising 90 percent of the audience, rather than an engaging rumination of the intricacies of the fiscal cliff and reduced national military budgets.Photo by: Jerry Baldock Pinterestlast_img read more