By SARAH ZIMMERMAN Associated Press
SALEM, Ore. (AP) — As part of an ambitious Democratic agenda, Oregon lawmakers are considering a range of gun control measures, including a provision that would penalize gun owners who fail to safely store their weapons at home.
We all know that while mass shootings make headlines, it's all too common that gun violence occurs behind closed doors. The very presence of a firearm in a domestic violence situation makes it five times more likely that a woman will be shot and killed. pic.twitter.com/RHjrtq0DuK— Governor Kate Brown (@OregonGovBrown) April 2, 2019
Advocates from both sides of the aisle flooded the Capitol on Tuesday to weigh in on an omnibus gun control package, which, among other things, would tighten gun storage requirements and outlaw untraceable firearms.
The legislation is in part meant to prevent easy access to firearms, and make gun owners financially responsible if their guns are stolen and then used to commit a crime. It's a response to the 2012 Clackamas Town Center shooting, when a 22-year-old masked man stole an assault-style weapon from a friend's apartment and went on a shooting rampage at a crowded shopping mall outside Portland, killing two before turning the gun on himself.
Paul Kemp, brother-in-law of one of the victims, testified in favor of stricter gun laws saying he was frustrated that the original gun owner could not be held responsible for allowing his weapon to fall into the wrong hands
"There have to be consequences for those reckless and careless gun owners when it leads to the injury and death of others," he said.
The proposal would also tighten regulations around 3-D-printed guns and other untraceable firearms, requiring that those who build these weapons to pass a background check. It would also allow retailers to set a minimum purchasing age of firearms and other accessories to 18, 19, 20 or 21. Walmart, Dick's Sporting Goods and other major retailers have raised the minimum purchasing age to 21 and have been slapped with age discrimination lawsuits in response.
A separate measure would also tightens an existing law banning domestic abusers from possessing firearms, setting out compliance regulations and closing a loophole that allowed people with temporary restraining orders to avoid relinquishing their weapons if they skipped court hearings.
Gov. Kate Brown supports the tightened restrictions, saying that common-sense gun control is the first step to preventing gun violence from "devastating families and households throughout the state of Oregon."
"Just as it's important to wear a seatbelt or a helmet, it's critical that people keep their guns safely stored when not in use, particularly when children are in the home," she said.
Gun-rights advocates slammed the proposals, saying that the plan strips their Second Amendment rights and unfairly punishes law-abiding gun owners who rely on guns for personal protection. Many added that requiring firearms to be kept in a locked box prevents gun owners from accessing their weapons quickly in case of an emergency.
Joshua Underwood, CEO of the firearms manufacturer Radian Weapons, said that further regulations won't stop weapons from staying out of the wrong hands and that firearms are an important tool in preventing future mass shootings.
"The public would be greatly impaired in their ability to protect themselves and their unarmed citizens around them," said Underwood, who organized a Defend the 2nd Rally at the Oregon State Capitol last week that drew thousands. "These laws will have no effect on holding back criminals from obtaining illegal weapons to commit violence."
The Senate Judiciary Committee will vote on the omnibus package early next week.
If you are interested in reading more about these bills and what they contain, visit the links below to see the text currently under consideration by state lawmakers:
Senate Bill 978 - "Relating to firearms"
House Bill 2013 - "Relating to court orders; declaring an emergency"