Oregon’s gun safety measure set to appear in November ballot – Oregon Capital Chronicle
Proponents of a gun safety ballot initiative say they’ve garnered more than enough signatures to secure a statewide vote on a law that would require licenses for all gun owners of firearms.
Hundreds of volunteers for Initiative Petition 17 will continue to collect petition signatures throughout Oregon through Tuesday evening, then deliver them Friday to the Secretary of State’s Elections Division. As of Monday afternoon, organizers estimate they collected between 135,000 and 140,000 signatures – well above the 112,000 needed to vote and provide a comfortable buffer in case some are invalid.
Mark Knutson, a Lutheran pastor from Portland and one of the leading petitioners, told the Capital Chronicle the campaign got off to a slow start as a rise in Covid cases and a rainy spring made it difficult to collect signatures. But mass shootings in Buffalo, New York, and Uvalde, Texas, in May prompted hundreds of volunteers to pick up clipboards and set up outside libraries and grocery stores.
“A lot of people who were holding back because of Covid said, ‘Now I have to go. I have to go out there and do something. “, Knutson said. “And that was something people could do right here in Oregon. We have had over 1,100 new volunteers since those two tragedies.
These volunteers are finishing their work following another tragedy. On Monday, a gunman killed seven people and injured at least two dozen during a July 4 parade in the Chicago suburb of Highland Park.
The initiative would bolster Oregon’s gun laws, which allow gun ownership at age 18 and require criminal background checks before gun purchases, though a loophole in federal law allows gun dealers to sell guns without background checks if it takes more than three days. The man who killed nine people in a racially charged shooting at a South Carolina church in 2015 acquired his gun this way.
If the measure were enacted, everyone would have to complete a background check, no matter how long it takes, and complete gun safety training to obtain a license before purchasing a firearm. It would not apply to current gun owners unless they purchase additional guns after the law comes into effect.
The measure would also ban the sale of ammunition magazines that can hold more than 10 rounds, although people who already own large magazines can continue to use them on their property, while hunting or at shooting ranges.
The initiative would not ban assault-type weapons, which have been used in numerous mass shootings, although the petitioners plan to work with lawmakers to pass such a ban in 2023. They had originally planned to impose this ban in the November ballot, but decided it worked better. to focus all of their efforts on a single initiative, Knutson said.
Joe Paterno, a retired physical therapist from Portland who is the initiative’s co-field director, told the Capital Chronicle the petition appears to be resonating with voters.
“A lot of signatories, after talking to them, become circulators,” he said. “What does that tell you? They listen, they understand the need and they say, ‘How can I help?’
This year’s initiative is the culmination of years of work for Knutson, Paterno and others. Knutson worked on gun violence issues in the 1980s and 1990s, and his church — Augustana Lutheran — has held vigils over the years.
In the summer of 2016, after a gunman killed 50 people at a gay nightclub in Orlando, Florida, Knutson asked a group of 100 elected officials and religious leaders if they would support a gun ban. assault and high-capacity magazines. Every hand in the room went up, he said.
Less than two years later, after 17 people were killed in a Valentine’s Day shooting at a high school in Parkland, Florida, they formed Lift Every Voice Oregon, an interfaith political action committee. They tried to put a ballot measure in place in 2018, but got embroiled in legal battles and ran out of time.
In 2019, they tried to push through the Legislature without success – Democratic leaders agreed to introduce gun safety legislation to entice Senate Republicans to end a walkout that was preventing the Legislature to do business.
And another attempt in 2020 for the ballot to end when Covid hit.
Since then, Knutson said, voter appetite for tougher gun safety laws has grown.
“After yesterday at Highland Park, it became one after another,” he said. “People who were on the fence are now starting to know that we have to do something.”
Lift Every Voice Oregon raised about $236,000 for the campaign and owes more than $45,000 in loans and other debts, according to campaign finance records. It is funded primarily by small donors, and its largest contributions are $10,000 from the American Civil Liberties Union of Oregon and a combined $20,000 from Mr. Albin (Al) Jubitz, Jr., a Portland philanthropist.
The only other statewide measure likely to appear on ballots in November is a proposed constitutional amendment that would punish absentee lawmakers by making them ineligible for re-election if they have 10 unexcused absences. or more.