The controversial Resolution 1217 passed on Wednesday night in city council. The title of the resolution was “A Resolution In Opposition To Any Further Infringement Of Second Amendment Rights.” Originally, on May 20th, it was titled “A Resolution in Support of Second Amendment Rights and in Opposition to the Expansion of the Firearms Purchase Background Check System.” But a group of 3 councilors (myself not included) amended the language.
It was a non-binding resolution– that merely makes a political statement– and has no teeth because SB 941, which created a universal background check system in Oregon, was signed into law on May 11th.
The vote was 4-1-1. Councilors Hensley, Rocha, Dale, and Coleman voted for it, Councilor Parker abstained, and I voted against it.
The council chambers’ gallery was overflowing that night–with standing room only– and by my count, 13 citizens made a public testimony: 8 in favor and 5 against. The gallery was mostly packed by supporters of this resolution; and it therefore took a lot of courage for citizens to testify against it. The atmosphere of the meeting was quite civil, considering the highly emotional nature of the issue. To view the the video of the meeting, click: http://www.ci.canby.or.us/CityGovernment/councilvideo.html. The public testimonies begin at about the 25 minute mark.
The council listened to the testimonies, stated our own opinions, and then voted. Below is the gist of the speech I made before voting.
My speech notes:
I’ll start by saying I support the Constitution and the 2nd Amendment. And I, like many others, believe it’s okay to support the 2nd Amendment and universal background checks.
I don’t think it’s within our jurisdiction as city councilors to take on Resolution 1217. It’s a reaction to SB 941, which was passed into law last month, also called the “Oregon Firearms Safety Act.” It requires universal background checks for firearm transfers in the state of Oregon.
It is already state law. Our job is to concentrate on making policy, on getting things done here in Canby. This resolution doesn’t affect City services or how we govern.
We shouldn’t be wasting our council time, city staff time and taxpayers’ dollars on drafting resolutions that are not binding. It opens the gate for us to take a political stand against any other state law that individual councilors do not like. I think it’s a misuse of our elected office. It’s our prerogative as individual citizens and voters but not as an elected body representing the whole city.
It concerns me that this isn’t a policy statement but a political statement.
I was elected in November to be a community leader and to unite our citizens, not to take a partisan stand on controversial and emotional issues of the state. I wasn’t elected to intentionally divide the community. As you can see tonight, this political statement is dividing the community when we have finally begun healing from the debacle/rift that the 2nd Ave library project caused 2 years ago.
Finally, this is an emotional issue for me because 10 years ago, my younger brother Gene Heidt, who graduated in the Canby class of ’96, was shot to death in Beaverton by an unstable friend of his, who then committed suicide. It was shocking and horrifying and we never knew why his friend Mike Binney did this. It devastated my family. There is still a huge hole in our family where my funny, outgoing brother used to be.
Background checks are simple and effective. And they save lives.
For these reasons I will vote No on Resolution 1217.