Family of mall shooting victim wants changes to gun laws

Family of mall shooting victim wants changes to gun laws

TUALATIN, Ore. – The family of the man who was killed in the shooting at Clackamas Town Center last year wants to see changes in gun laws both in Oregon and nationwide.

Steve Forsyth's wife and kids are in counseling. They can't sleep at night, but the family recognizes the value of sharing their story and how it may help shape the way people look at gun violence.

About the only solace Forsyth's family took in how he died was that he didn't suffer.

"He was talking to his dad when he was shot," said Paul Kemp on Monday, who was Forsyth's brother-in-law. "Steve dropped the phone, of course. He was dead before he hit the floor."

Since the shooting, Kemp has reached out to national groups trying to curb gun violence and asking how he can help.

Kemp is not a bleeding-heart liberal.

"I'm a registered Republican and a gun owner," he said. "But I secure my weapons, and I'm not going to give them up.

But Kemp does believe in a national background check when someone's buying a gun. He believes there's no need for citizens to be able to buy high-capacity magazines. He also thinks there ought to be consequences for gun owners who don't properly store their weapons.

Jacob Tyler Roberts, the young man who shot and killed Forsyth, Cindy Yuille and seriously wounded 15-year-old Kristina Shevchenko before fatally shooting himself Dec. 11, 2012, would have passed a background check. But he'd stolen the gun he used that day, and investigators have told Kemp the shooter had with him 145 rounds of ammunition.

"The absolute worst day of my life – the worst event – was having to tell Alex his dad was dead, was shot at the mall," Kemp said. "There's no good way to do that, and I cannot fathom what those parents in Newtown went through. ... It's not worth it and it should not happen to more families."

Alex is 14 years old and he and his father share a birthday.

Kemp plans to be in Salem later this week, talking to state lawmakers about changing gun laws in Oregon.

Four proposed gun-control measures go before the Oregon Senate Judiciary Committee on Friday.

Senate Bill 347 would ban guns in primary and secondary schools. Senate Bill 699 would prohibit openly carrying a weapon in public buildings, including the state Capitol. Another, Senate Bill 700 requires background checks on gun sales and transfers, except between family members, and Senate Bill 796 requires a shooting test to obtain a concealed-handgun license.

Gun rights supporters say the bills would only punish gun owners who obey the law and make it tougher for them to protect themselves and the people around them.