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Carmen Macdonald

A passion for fishing and hunting grew into a career that's included Alaskan guide, media sales, writer and the politics of outdoor recreation. My company, Vaunt Marketing, represents industry-leading brands in the US and Canadian markets.

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January 12, 2016

Booze, Weed & Guns

by Carmen Macodnald

I watched the President of the United States' recent town hall on guns. My takeaway was pretty straightforward, the outcome of his recommended legislative actions would not solve the issue, but every life matters and we need to do what we can.

"Do what we can" seems to be a modern theme. I hear the exact same words used with regard to banning lead bullets for the sake of condors, purging hatchery fish from systems for the sake of wild fish, and in this case specifically, eroding the 2nd amendment to what is history's second greatest collection of documents.

When I hear "do what we can," it now sends up immediate red flags. I can sense the feel-good-and-accomplish-little that is to immediately follow.

And then I start to wonder about the individuals espousing the ideas, and how their emotion came to land so strongly on the topic being discussed. The President wants to save lives, and his cause is guns. Why? Why guns?

How do guns measure up? When compared to say- booze and weed?

In these recent discussions I learned that 30,000 people lose their live annually to guns. Two-thirds of these apparently take their own life, so 10,000 lives are taken by guns, by others.

According to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, 88,000 people die annually from alcohol-related causes, nearly 3X that of guns.

But then its not only death that causes destruction. And in the case of alcohol, over 17 million people in the US share some sort of alcohol use disorder. Somewhere there's a child going hungry because of a drunk right now. Someone else is most certainly being beaten. And by the numbers, it's likely there's a sexual assault taking place too.

This study sheds some interesting light. They studied 7,459 unintentional injury deaths, 28,696 homicide cases, and 19,347 suicide cases. They weren't studying guns, but most certainly there were guns involved as a percentage.

Blood alcohol level was tested in a high number of the studied cases: 88.2% of homocides, 84% of unintentional injury deaths and 81.7% of the suicides. Of these cases, "The aggregate percentage determined to be intoxicated (BAC, >/=100 mg/dL) was highest among homicide cases (31.5%), followed by unintentional injury deaths (31.0%) and suicide cases (22.7%)." Alcohol was involved in more than 1 in 5 cases. If the goal is to do something, 22- to 33% is one heck of a goal.

And yet, when I turn on the television tonight, I'll most certainly be told how alcohol will make me more interesting (maybe even the most interesting), better looking, a better dancer and simply super cool.

If I owned a winery, I would be a celebrated individual and perhaps a member of the social elite. If I owned a craft brewery, I'd be a rock star- the ultimate in cool. Oregon would be stumbling over itself to help me open markets for my inebriating wares.

Of course, not all drinkers are, or have, problems. It's just a percentage. And hell, we've got government involved from the top to the bottom to save the day. We have a fully deployed social structure to treat dependency and problem drinking.

And still the deaths are 3X those of guns.

Alcohol is available at every convenience store, gas station and grocery store in the state to every jackass over 21. But somehow guns steal the attention.

I missed the constitutional amendment that protects my right to purchase and consume alcohol.

And then, there's weed.

While the POTUS is working to erode the Constitution, the federal government is turning a blind eye to state law that's directly in conflict with federal law and allowing illegal production and sale of dope.

Take a hit and consider that. You can't make this stuff up.

While parading against guns and gun violence, Oregon and Washington have openly welcomed death.

December 13th: Driver was high on marijuana when he killed NE Portland cyclist, police say

October 6th: Woman hit in Gresham crosswalk by driver accused of smoking pot has died

July 13th: Police: Man high on pot killed Beaverton woman in crash

Those took about 8 seconds to find.

The more I see these topics discussed the more I realize we don't give two bits about death. Oregon will give tax breaks to the purveyors of alcohol death then rally in support of stricter limits on guns. Our drug-loving populace voted to legalize more death and unleash at least 300 chemicals found in marijuana on the human brain.

But dude, stoners don't get violent. I know, they just get stupid and kill other people through their stupidity from time to time.

Not overlooking the tiny percentage of medicinal uses where users realize exceptional benefits, on the whole booze and weed are useless. (I am on the lookout for the revolution hemp fiber is to bring to the textile industry)

And on the other side, every one of my guns can put food on my table and protect me from the jackasses mentioned earlier.

Our government was designed to include a balance of power within itself. Guns are the balance of power between the government and the citizens.

As soon as we lose sight of that, it's over.

I have great respect to for those with the commitment to make a difference. There are big issues staring us right in the face, and we're surrounded by low-hanging fruit that does not involve undermining the Constitution.

Comments (38)

2gotaway wrote 1 year ago

well said

chummer wrote 1 year ago

Interesting viewpoint, maybe America would be better served if we required a background check before every purchase of liquor could be completed. If any past crimes are revealed, no sale, and off to prison they go for attempting to buy a forbidden product, just the same as a felon attempting to buy a firearm.

David Johnson wrote 1 year ago

Well said Carman

NEUTRON wrote 1 year ago

You make some good points here... I'll be curious to see the responses from many of the pro pot people on this site....

johnsoncreek wrote 1 year ago

I like your perspective, and I generally agree with all of your points (despite being a pro-pot supporter). Driving drunk and high is a huge problem, and the current focus being on guns is very arbitrary. I do believe we get some big gains from legalizing pot. Keeping thousands of people out of jail and keeping cops focused on real issues is important.

I feel like the Constitution is taken way too seriously though. I agree it's a great historical document, but I think the USA deserves the right to govern ourselves in the image of it's citizens desires. We shouldn't have our hands tied behind our back just because of a document written hundreds of years ago. Thomas Jefferson also had this perspective, so I'm hardly out on a limb here!

Threemuch wrote 1 year ago

You had me until you threw in the legalization movement of marijuanna as "openly welcoming death" That's just ridiculous. You found 3 reports in a city of over 1 million people? How many deaths from just plain old driving drowsy (something EVERY fisherman and hunter I know does with regularity) or driving in HORRIBLE conditions when it isn't neccesary (also every hunter and fisherman is guilty). You undermine the whole argument. Of course, the same argument works that we should not have gotten involved in a 10+ year war over 9/11. How about tobacco? Or is that your next article. Probably not as popular around here as your opinion on gun control.

Han Solo wrote 1 year ago

I love it when people who don't know much about something hold forth on it. No doubt you were sharpening your suspenders while doing it.

Immediately dismissing gun involvement in suicides? A gun is pretty easy as far as suicides go. An attempt, often someone asking for help, is almost always successful when a gun is involved. Other methods that fail sometimes result in the suicidal, depressed person getting help. If you are dead you don't get that help.

And I wonder how many of the successful people you know are lifelong weed smokers. It would surprise you for sure. As far as assigning weed as a cause of car wrecks and other things go. One thing to consider is the fact that the stuff remains in your system for weeks after you smoke it. So this complicates detecting recent use. Labeling all detections as weed caused crime is just ridiculous and is more of the same "just say no" crap the legalization effort is trying to end, permanently.

Law enforcement has been blaming weed for crime for a long time. Criminals are often drug tested when they enter the criminal justice system. Any use in the previous 6 weeks may be detected and is turned into a cause for the crime in question.

Carmen Macdonald wrote 1 year ago

I'll assume you were a yes vote.

The President said we need to do what we can. Don't minimize the death of those three people because there wasn't a candlelight vigil and Presidential visit. Like I said it took me about 8 seconds to find those three events since legalization on July 1.

We're just getting started.

Here from Colorado: https://www.rt.com/usa/316148-marijuana-related-deaths-injuries-study/

"The study showed that the number of drivers testing positive for marijuana increased 100 percent from 2007 to 2012, with marijuana-related fatalities doubling from 37 to 78. Traffic fatalities total around 500 a year in the state." Nearly 20 percent of traffic fatalities.

"One of the reports key findings was that the number of children aged zero to five exposed to marijuana increased 268 percent when comparing the period from 2006 to 2009 to the period from 2010 to 2013: triple the national average."

"The report showed that more young people aged 12 to 17 were using marijuana as well."

"Marijuana-related emergency room visits grew 57 percent in two years, from 8,198 in 2011 to 12,888 in 2013, the study found, with a 29 percent increase in emergency room visits for teens."

Here's another article: http://denver.cbslocal.com/2015/05/18/marijuana-intoxication-blamed-in-more-deaths-injuries/

Every life matters right? We need to do something right? Then why invite this garbage into our communities?

Is it because the good outweighs the bad? Tell me how it's different than guns?

Tobacco is a good reference, but it's almost completely suicide.

Within the gun debate it's all too easy for non-gun-owners to claim holier-than-thou. The other guy is the problem. When in fact, they probably drink, might smoke, and may use tobacco.

Again, we accept death all around us from products with no Constitutional protections.

Carmen Macdonald wrote 1 year ago

Han Solo, you crack me up.

I didn't dismiss guns and suicide. Please reread it.

But it is interesting that in 22% of suicides in the study, they found high blood alcohol. Where do you lay the blame for those 22%? Do you lay it at the feet of alcohol, or the mechanism by which they actually took their life?

As for life long pot smokers, I'll see your point and ask you to realize you know an equal number of life-long, successful gun owners.

That's the point.

goinoregon wrote 1 year ago

drunks and stoners are not breaking into our schools and killing innocent young men and women.
And in the case of alcohol or weed related automobile deaths - the drivers have broken LAWS. With your perspective on guns, i guess you also would support removing our laws regarding drunk driving?
And, years ago, citizens could openly purchase dynamite for use on their farms. Laws have been implemented to restrict sales of dynamite/tnt, and the population did not go up in arms. The public seems to accept the fact that we are a safer society, with less people walking around with dynamite.
And, I always compare guns to driving cars. We accept that people need to be a certain age, and pass a driving test, and carry insurance, in order to drive a car. But with guns, the gun guys seem to think unlimited access is the way to go.

When I think about safety and common sense, I don't think in 2015 we need to be looking to the constitution.

Carmen Macdonald wrote 1 year ago

Thank you for the comments. I wonder if the founders of this country could have gotten the Declaration of Independence off the ground in the modern world? Today, truths are hard to find, and few are self-evident.

Maybe the difference between booze & weed and guns is malice. A shooter doesn't say sorry like the drunk or stoner that wipes out innocents with a vehicle. Is that it? We're okay with 3X the amount of deaths by alcohol because they're perceived as manslaughter, instead of murder.

I most certainly wouldn't do away with drunk-driving law. Not sure how you can construe that. To the contrary, many lives could be saved with intense oversight of alcohol sales. I'll go further to say alcohol is a player in the "mental health" issues being discussed. And that legalizing dope will only add to death counts. And finally that neither of these are protected under the Constitution (dope is against federal law and the President is doing nothing), and therefor could be addressed and/or eliminated far easier than guns.

And yes, overall I'm insinuating the same people who would take the other guy's gun away, would whole-heartedly disagree with limitations on their booze and weed because it's not the number of deaths that we care about...it's deaths as they relate to our personal beliefs and values.

Many would-be fascists would agree with a couple of the comments about the Constitution.

SalmonBreath wrote 1 year ago

I will give you my weed when you pry it from my cold, dead hands.

Carmen Macdonald wrote 1 year ago

SalmonBreath...I like the way you think.

I deleted one comment because the poster of it asked me to. It was generally that I was some sort of tea-totaller. I'm not.

As I look at every argument about guns, maybe that people are tired of worrying about being shot in a public setting, I see people that pass completely by the fact alcohol kills so many more and there's a total lack out outrage. Innocent people minding their own business get killed by drunk drivers all the time.

Legalizing dope will kill people, it's killed at least three since July 1, right here in the greater Portland area. There's a cost to it. There's a cost to booze. There's a cost to guns.

Fisherman Bob wrote 1 year ago

The world is changing, views are changing and it's inevitable that other changes need to be made. What I find more disturbing, is the number of people who continue to remember how things were in past years. I remember when I sold my drift boat, the majority of the people drifted for steelhead, pulled plugs and were just starting to mess with side drifting and bobbers with pink worms or jigs. Now I can go on "you tube" and find out how to do almost anything without buying newspapers and magazines, without having to read articles biased by the author. I for one don't share most of your opinions - Bob Paladeni aka Fisherman Bob.

sthdjay wrote 1 year ago

My take away is that this article is thinly-veiled partisan-political speech. Ifish AUP must not apply to guest columnists.

Corvallis-Corky wrote 1 year ago

Agree with sthdjay. Was surprised to see something like this posted on the main page.

"Oregon and Washington have openly welcomed death"

Come on. Really? How can you even type that with a straight face?

So if a person smokes a cigarette while driving, then hit someone, you can attribute the accident to being buzzed on nicotine right?

I see what you mean that alcohol and driving creates a risk to the general public, but every time I get in my car I understand that I'm taking a risk. I shouldn't have to feel like going out in public is taking a risk too.

tysonparlor10 wrote 1 year ago

Glad to now be done reading your blog posts. I am excited for my generation to get rid of this mentality regarding marijuana.

The Jester wrote 1 year ago

Did you quit fishing? You should take it back up and chill the heck out!

jzell wrote 1 year ago

Hi Carmen,

You posted, "eroding the 2nd amendment to what is history's second greatest collection of documents. "

What is history's first and second greatest collection of documents?


Anchor Management wrote 1 year ago


Isn't there a Wildlife sanctuary that needs you. Stick to marketing other peoples products, because what you are trying to sell right now sucks. Either you decided not to flex any intellectual muscle or you are picking and choosing the details that fit best with your 1950's world view.

Carmen Macdonald wrote 1 year ago

1950's world view? I don't see how period has anything to do with it. I looked at some number comparisons and where the trending topics are.

The argument is pretty simple.

Death by firearm is considered abhorrent, but death by alcohol or dope is not. Or maybe, all of them are considered abhorrent, but we choose not to seriously address alcohol, or dope.

In either case, we're in national discussion over guns with 30,000 annual deaths and accept alcohol on every corner at 88,000 annual deaths. And furthermore, we're legalizing another mind-altering substance.

Firearms are protected by the Constitution, alcohol and dope are not.

Dope is illegal under Federal law, but the Federal government chooses to ignore state legalization, and instead our President is making guns an issue, while ignoring state's conflict with federal drug law.

I can get drunk and commit a felony...then continue to get drunk (with or without felonies) in perpetuity. The drunk driver who kills someone, can get out of prison and go straight to a bar.

I'm not taking away the benefits of decriminalizing marijuana as described by change.org...like children of mothers who smoke dope during pregnancy are smarter.... legalization and widespread use will increase deaths. You don't just get the upsides.


Corvallis-Corky wrote 1 year ago

"legalization and widespread use will increase deaths"

You keep saying this like it is fact. Where's your source for that? I got news for ya, widespread use is not new, and I'd be surprised if legalization had much of an impact on how many people smoke dope.

This entire article seems like a good example of logical fallacy.

You really don't see the difference between accidental alcohol related deaths and committing murder with a gun?

Carmen Macdonald wrote 1 year ago

Corky, please, enlighten me on the difference.

I'm a father of two children. In the event of their death, tell me what the difference is if they were to be killed by accidental drunk or drugged person, or by gun.

Please tell me.

Are you a parent?

Han Solo wrote 1 year ago

Carmen I think the point is that in general I have not much to fear from a guy with a bowl in his pocket. I do however wonder about those people that think they will someday stop an active shooter and that carry a gun around in public to make sure they can do that if necessary.

The odds of that vigilante accidently shooting an innocent are unacceptable to me. Against the chance of that vigilante stopping an active shooter I think it is an unnecessary and unacceptable risk to the public.

The NRAs argument about good guys with guns being the answer to bad guys with guns .. It is exactly what you would expect from a paid representative of the gun industry. If you sell guns for a living then the answer to every problem is more guns.

As far as driving impaired goes .. yes good points about drunk driving, tired driving, stoned driving, stupid driving. I signed up for those risks when I got my drivers license. I did not sign up for getting shot in a public place by some dumb ass Rambo carrying out a vigilante fantasy.

These mass shootings have to stop. Not sure how to do that but it must be discussed rationally not with lobbyists shouting down those that pose a threat to the lobbyists sponsors.

Carmen Macdonald wrote 1 year ago

In general we can probably agree that some fears are rational, some are not. I posted three articles where people have been killed by someone hitting the pipe, in the Portland area, in the last six months. The article from Colorado in the comments is the source of Corky's needed look at the increase in use, and rise in problems associated with smoking weed and edibles.

Can you offer me some examples of the vigilante shooting and the negative odds? To me that seems an irrational fear, but maybe I have my head in the sand as to the frequency that type of event occurs.

To me it appears that we interpret issues based upon our personal values and filters. Maybe you can help shed some light on the differences in dead that Corky saw as self-evident. How is death at the hand of an alcohol or weed-impaired person different than dead by gunshot?

SalmonBreath wrote 1 year ago


People die from all types of behaviors, and when your child dies from someone else's behavior, they are all equally reprehensible. Your essay is persuasive in nature, however it is unclear to me what you are prescribing. The comparison (as I see it) is; our government plays fast and loose with alcohol and marijuana, while restricting access to guns, via background checks. All three cause deaths, so all three should be regulated accordingly. Should we clamp down on access to alcohol and marijuana and continue to restrict access to guns? or should we discontinue background checks on guns and lift barriers to alcohol and marijuana? or do you advocate more restrictions on alcohol and marijuana, and less on guns?

Carmen Macdonald wrote 1 year ago

I wasn't necessarily advocating a position. I was more sizing up a comparison and openly wondering why and how the President makes his choices for national town halls. Also, I was showing that if every life does in fact matter, there are issues with which we play "fast and loose" (great description) that are proven to be (alcohol), and can become (weed), far more destructive issues than guns. And perhaps most importantly, those issues have no protection under our Constitution, and therefor should be much easier to deal with...if the will to do so existed.

And of course, I do enjoy placing some inconvenient truths in front of those who would discuss the barbaric nature of firearms over a tall cold one and maybe point out an ugly truth about alcohol in front of everybody. Because it's easy for a non-gun owner to point to the other guy and there are lots of non-gun owners. But just look at how the reaction comes from those who enjoy alcohol or smoking weed. Place blood at their feet and it's like how dare you. Well, I'm a lifelong and extremely safe gun owner- how dare you.

Plus, I enjoy the hell out of a spirited debate.

BillH wrote 1 year ago

No one seems to mention the newest cause of deaths in America ---CELL PHONES---. When mixed with alcohol, pot, driving vehicles, guns, etc., they cause a lot of highway deaths and even suicides. I love my guns, my pre-dinner bourbons, and my 370 hp truck but I don't mix their use and most of all, I don't aggravate my risks by walking or driving with a damn cell phone in my face distracting my concentration. I would like to see the penalties of driving under the influence of cell phones increased to those similar to driving under the influence of alcohol. "They" are starting to develop statistics on this issue that seem pretty scary.

Whethole wrote 1 year ago

Its funny how when a thread is opened up and debated about guns and political observations, its closed. Yet, here on the front page of ifish, we have an article about BOTH and its ok? This seems like double standards to me. If someone can enlighten me about this, i would gladly welcome an explanation. Just an observation, not a knock on anything or anyone.

Carmen Macdonald wrote 1 year ago

This isn't the forum, this is a blog. It's a separate piece. I couldn't put this in the forum, and I don't and wouldn't put topics like this in the forum. This piece is under my name, not ifish.

Sarge1201 wrote 1 year ago

It's amazing how people start jumping to all sorts of unsupported conclussions when someone dares step on their toes. I think Carmen's point is being missed. Correct me if I'm wrong. The point is politicians like to blather on about how they want to restrict gun sales because "Its for the kids" or "if it saves just one life" it is worth it, all the while completely ignoring other, equally worthy issues that also cause death.

Also interesting to me is how some are ok with restricting someone elses activities but lose their heads when someone suggests restricting what they want. They can't understand why gun owners get so angry about proposed restrictions and then turn around and throw a hissy fit when someone questions the lack of restriction on marijuana. Irony(and hypocrisy)is entertaining, no?

I'm still waiting for someone....anyone, to explain to us how they are going to convince criminals that they must get a background check before they murder people with their illegally obtained guns.

Corvallis-Corky wrote 1 year ago

Well, those of us who have been benefiting medically and spiritually from the use of MJ are used to it being illegal. No big deal to me. It is nice now, but doesn't change all that much. People I know that didn't use it before, don't use it now just because it is legal. I didn't see anyone throwing a hissy fit. I saw people challenging the argument which is based in logically fallacy.

I was mostly annoyed that we are comparing an object, built with one purpose, to kill, with other things that contribute to accidental deaths. My main argument really was how absurd it is to say that legalizing marijuana increases deaths. I call BS on that. Alcohol... yeah I think fewer people would die if it didn't exist, but you'd still have distracted drivers, tired drives, stupid drivers. If there were no guns, no more gun violence, period. You'd still have murders, but you'd have to be a lot more committed and well trained to pull one off. No public mass killings without guns, or it would take careful planning and execution.

I'm not pro-gun control necessarily, I think background checks do sound like a joke. The problem is, it is impossible to eliminate them entirely. The motives behind gun-control, however, I do agree with. It is a difficult problem, but I think it needs to be addressed.

Carmen- to answer your earlier question. Yes, if my kid was killed by a drunk driver, I'd be obviously heartbroken. If my kid was murdered in a school shooting, I might go completely insane. Yes, in both cases the end result is the same. But for me personally, how you go is pretty important. Thinking of my child cowering under a desk knowing what may be coming, much worse to me than thinking of a sudden accident out of nowhere.

Corvallis-Corky wrote 1 year ago


Sarge1201 wrote 1 year ago

Except for the FACT that marijuana related deaths actually HAVE increased in Colorado since the legalization of mj. Believe it or don't, but its true.

Also, how do we "get rid of" guns? Banning them won't make them go away any more than banning marijuana made it go away.

One other thing. I guarantee I could walk into a school tomorrow and kill more kids with nothing more than a baseball bat than someone could with a gun. No training required.

Focusing on guns is misguided. I've had guns since I was twelve years old. I now own close to a dozen of them. I've even owned the super scary and dangerous black,military "assault weapon" of mythology. Not one of them have ever taken a human life. Why? Because I'm a law abiding, rational minded person. Guns are tools like any other. Focus on the killer, not the tool.

Sarge1201 wrote 1 year ago


Corvallis-Corky wrote 1 year ago

Sarge, who are you talking to? If it is me, you must not have actually read my post, or didn't understand it? Where did I say "get rid of" guns? You even put it in quotes like those were my words?

I said, I don't think that gun control laws would do anything, only eliminating guns entirely would have an impact. Which I guessed would be impossible. So... maybe read it again?

As for claiming that marijuana related deaths have gone up is "FACT" I guess we'll have to agree to disagree. Except I'm right :)

I looked through that entire report you posted. Did you? Note that the source used for that load of crap: almost exclusively the Denver Post. Not super credible to me. In the end, there was absolutely zero data that proves MJ related deaths are on the rise. I did see some evidence that MJ use in general has been on the increase. But you do realize that when someone in a fatal accident and tests positive for MJ, they could have smoked it 3 weeks before the accident? That was the only figure I found that could be construed to make your point. What figure were you referring to in your argument? Page number?

As for the kids with a bat thing, that's just a weird thing to say. But for the sake of argument, I would say killing by bat would take next-level insanity and commitment from the killer. Killing by gun, much easier, much less personal.

B. Coastal wrote 1 year ago

Come on C-C, didn't you see the government studies outlined in "Reefer Madness"? Beware of drug-crazed jazz musicians!

artpro wrote 1 year ago

People kill people, NOT GUNS. Guns are tools and are objects same as cars, baseball bats and kitchen knives and poisons. However, all of these have been used by people as killing tools. You can't put blame on inanimate items.

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