“Courage means overcoming partisanship, and also means not bowing to any special interest, and instead voting one’s conscience. Senators always have to vote based on whether an issue should be decided as a representative of the people (i.e., voting in accordance with the majority in one’s district), or alternatively as a matter of conscience. When the matter of conscience prevails in a situation where one’s re-election is clearly at stake, that becomes a “profile in courage.”
A Courageous position
Oregon State Senator Boquist is a retired US Army Special forces officer. He fits in the mainstream of the Republican Party and represents a right leaning rural District that stretches from McMinnville to Corvallis. He’s been a solid vote for gun rights and his district voters like that.
But Senator Boquist is rightfully concerned with the growing tragedy of suicides and murder/suicides with firearms by people with mental health issues. Particularly the growing number of firearm suicides by veterans. He and his family have themselves experienced a mental health/firearm tragedy.
He has courageously decided to do what he feels is right and what his conscience demands. He’s bucking the GOP’s powerful gun interests and is a Sponsor of Senate Bill 868 which seeks to reduce suicide by firearm.
Senate Bill 868 would authorize law enforcement officers or members of a person’s immediate household to seek a court order restricting the subject’s access to firearms and ammunition. It would also create a process for the person to request a hearing on such an application, ensuring due process.
From the Yamhill County News Register Sen. Boquist was quoted as saying “A dozen Vietnam veterans kill themselves every day,” he said. “We want to find a way to address this issue without getting everyone’s ire up. We’ve started marching down the road.”
The GOP Opposition:
Kevin Starrett is the executive Director of the Oregon Firearm Federation which was founded in 1999. The OFF is very influential in Oregon GOP circles and does not support Sen. Boquists bill. According to Starrett (Also from the Yamhill Co. News Register) most gun-control measures used to be introduced by Republicans. But no longer. Since the OFF’s founding no Republican has offered any bills related to gun control.
Until now apparently.
Rewarding Independent Courage
Boquist is the only Republican to sign onto this bill. He is sponsoring a bill that so far every other elected leader in his Party and one of it’s most powerful interest groups oppose. And he is doing so because he believes it’s necessary and good public policy. He believes it will save lives without unnecessarily infringing on constitutional rights. His conscience dictates his support.
It is not politically advantageous to support this bill but Senator Boquist, the retired Army special forces officer who has without question made many difficult leadership decisions in his life, is more courageous than average. And a leader we can respect..
For those reasons, we should recognize Senator Boquist for his Political Courage.
If you’d like to urge your State Senator or Representative to join as a co-sponsor of Senate Bill 868, you can find your representative and email them here.