'Assault Weapons Ban' Initiative Gains Traction in Oregon

The chief petitioners turned in several thousand signatures on Monday, but it will be at least another week before those are confirmed.

Posted: Mar 27, 2018 3:51 PM
Updated: Mar 27, 2018 4:37 PM

SALEM, Ore. — The chief petitioners of an Oregon initiative to ban 'assault weapons' have turned in an initial batch of sponsorship signatures to the Oregon Secretary of State's office. If 1,000 or more of the signatures are verified as legitimate by the Elections Division, the attorney general will begin drafting the initiative's ballot title.

The Elections Division will have until April 9 to verify those 1,000 signatures. According to an Elections employee, that process has not yet begun. Even if the initiative qualifies for a ballot title, it will still need 88,184 signatures in total to show up on ballots in November.

According to the Elections Division, a ballot title is an impartial summary of a petition's content and effects, which is how the initiative would appear on Oregon ballots.

Initially filed as 'Initiative 42' on March 19, the petition was withdrawn and re-filed on March 22 as 'Initiative 43.' The text of the document is substantially the same. After a line-by-line comparison, Initiative 43 fixes a small typo and adds an introduction ("Be it Enacted by the People of the State of Oregon").

What the re-filed initiative does not address is what critics of the document rail against—the broad and extensive manner in which it categorizes banned firearms. However, a closer read of the petition's text may allay some fears.

The initiative addresses any weapons platform that can accommodate magazines of more than 10 rounds, forward pistol grips, muzzle brakes or flash suppressors, to name a few. If a rifle or pistol has a detachable magazine and any of these extra attachments, it becomes illegal. Detachable magazines are not banned outright, unless they exceed 10 rounds. This means that many gun owners can strip down or simplify their weapons and they will remain legal.

Any firearm which has a "fixed magazine" or natural capacity to accept more than 10 rounds would be illegal, as they essentially contain a "high-capacity magazine."

Semi-automatic shotguns will be illegal if they have both a forward pistol grip and a folding/telescoping stock, or if they can accept a detachable magazine.

Examining the controversial AR-15 rifle in the light of this petition reveals that even this weapon would not be banned outright. Since rifles and pistols with detachable magazines remain legal as long as those magazines accept 10 rounds or less, an AR-15 would only be illegal if it also had a pistol grip—which, admittedly, most versions do. What the initiative specifies is that rifles with a detachable magazine and a grip that places the fingers of the trigger hand directly below the trigger finger are banned.

Language in the initiative that would imply exceptions—namely, that individuals can register their weapons with State law enforcement after passing a criminal background check in order to keep their firearms—only applies to a very slim portion of Oregon's population. Members of the military, law enforcement, licensed firearms dealers, or certain government agencies are the only individuals who qualify for this registration option.

CLICK HERE for our previous story on Initiative 42, when it was first announced.

SEE BELOW for the text of Initiative 43, as it stands today.

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