PORTLAND, Ore. - Each side of the contentious gun rights debate presented at least one major argument during Sunday's "Your Voice, Your Vote" to support its position.
Oregon Firearms Federation executive director Kevin Starrett, said that guns by themselves are not the problem; instead, there are people out there who do terrible things.
"Guns are inanimate objects, which are incapable of doing anything on their own, and for us to continue to act like people have no part of this process of committing crimes is ridiculous," he said.
He added that if the government can tell people what they can and cannot own, then "we're Orwellian, it's 1984, we're living in the Soviet Union, we're no longer Americans."
Penny Okamoto, the executive director of Ceasefire Oregon, an organization that wants an expired ban on semiautomatic weapons and large ammunition magazines reinstated, argued the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in McDonald v. Chicago that people do not "necessarily have a constitutional right to have a concealed weapon. (They) don't have a constitutional right to carry a weapon that's going to shoot 'X' number of bullets whether that’s 30 or 50 or 100 or 10."
She added that her organization is not for banning handguns or rifles and that background checks should be required when weapons are sold during private sales.
The debate followed the recent mass shooting in an Aurora, Colo. movie theater where 12 people were killed and 58 were injured.
A SurveyUSA/KATU News poll questioned 500 adults in the state of Oregon on a number of issues relating to gun rights.
On the question of what is the best way to reduce gun violence, 65 percent said stricter enforcement of existing laws while 28 percent said passing stricter laws would help.
About 49 percent said they would support a ban on semiautomatic weapons while 43 percent said they would oppose such a ban.
Politicians, even after the mass shooting in Colorado, are reluctant to press for tighter gun laws right now. According to the White House, President Barack Obama will not seek stricter gun laws this year but still wants Congress to reinstate the ban that expired in 2004. Obama, however, has not pushed it to do so.
Both he and Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney say they want better enforcement of gun laws already on the books.
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