Oregon gun control bills draw bipartisan support and opposition

Oregonians debated a trio of bills Monday that would restrict some residents’ access to guns, with the proposals drawing opposition and support from both sides of the aisle.

The Senate Judiciary Committees heard three bills on Monday, the Oregonian reported. Supporters said the measures were needed to prevent further gun violence, while opponents argued the bills would infringe upon their Second Amendment rights.

Oregon Gov. Kate Brown testified in support for two of the bills, saying they would help prevent tragedies like the Umpqua Community College shooting 2015, in which 10 people were killed, and domestic violence shootings like a recent incident in which a father shot and killed his two daughters and then killed himself.

“I cannot imagine the heartache the family is going through,” Brown said. “And I extend my sincere condolences. This is absolutely unacceptable. In Oregon, we can do better. Violence answers nothing, offers nothing, solves nothing.”

Senate Bill 868, sponsored by Republican Sen. Brian Boquist and Democrat Sen. Ginny Burdick, would allow family members to ask for a court order that would prevent an individual at risk of hurting themselves or others from purchasing a gun. The individual would also have to give up any previously purchased firearms.

Boquist said the bill is aimed to prevent suicides, especially among veterans. The lawmaker’s stepson was a Navy veteran who killed himself last year.

Arguing that the proposal does not violate the Second Amendment, Boquist said similar laws have had their day in court and have been ruled to be constitutional.

“It’s easy to wave your book around,” he said, holding up a pocket-sized copy of the Constitution. “When the Supreme Court and other people say it’s constitutional, that’s the law of the land.”

National Rifle Association lobbyist Keely Hopkins criticized the bill, arguing it lacked due process of the law.

“This bill allows for a protective order to remove your Second Amendment rights,” she said, “not because of a criminal conviction, but based on third-party allegations using an evidentiary standard that falls far below what’s normally required for the removing of fundamental rights.”

Another measure, Senate Bill 797, would require a background check to be completed for all gun transfers, no matter how long the check takes. The proposal is meant to close the so-called “Charleston loophole,” which allows gun transfers to go through if the background check takes longer than three days.

The measure would also make it illegal for individuals convicted of stalking and subject to a restraining order from purchasing a gun.

Hopkins condemned the measure, saying: “Firearm ownership and self-defense is an important right, and Oregonians rely on the state to conduct and complete background checks in a timely manner. An indefinite delay in a background check makes it impossible for a person to legally purchase a firearm.”

A third proposal, Senate Bill 764, would require concealed handgun permit applicants to show the ability to fire a handgun, as opposed to just completing an online test.

“What we’re trying to do is provide the best course of action that will give families a chance to help themselves and prevent their veterans and other family members from killing themselves, prevent suicide by cop, and worse, killing family members in desperation,” said Boquist, who indicated he worked with people on all sides to draft the measure.

After the hearings, the bills were no longer scheduled for a Tuesday vote, a move cheered by the NRA’s Institute for Legislative Action.