SALEM, Ore. — A controversial "assault weapons ban" initiative that petitioners hoped to get on the 2018 ballot is back — or at least its spiritual successor.
The 2018 ballot initiative was championed by an alliance of Portland-area religious leaders, but got tangled up in litigation that led all the way to the state Supreme Court. Although the measure survived legal challenges with the mandate that they change some of the wording, state laws prevent petitioners from getting signatures on an initiative while it is tied up in court.
With so much of their vital signature-gathering time spent defending their initiative in court, the original petitioners eventually admitted defeat.
Enter Greg Wasson, an activist and former lawyer from Salem. After giving the original initiative a legal once-over, he's filed it as Initiative 16 for the 2020 ballot — under the moniker "The Common Sense Gun Regulation Act of 2020."
"The people of the State of Oregon find and declare that a reduction in the availability of assault weapons and large capacity ammunition magazines will promote the public health and safety of Oregon residents," the initiative reads.
In a statement from the Committee for Petition Rights (CPR) — a group for which Wasson is Executive Secretary — Wasson explained his reasoning for filing the initiative.
"First, it gives me legal standing to try and rescue the people's initiative power from an over-reaching state government. Second, it gives the supporters of reasonable gun control a way to remind the legislature of what waits if the lawmakers continue to avoid the issue," Wasson said.
The substance of Wasson's filing is much the same as the 2018 initiative. "Assault weapons," which describes a range of modifiable semi-automatic gun platforms that accept detachable magazines in addition to other apparatus (forward grips, folding and telescoping stocks, flash suppressors and the like), must be registered with law enforcement and owners submitted to a criminal background check.
"Large capacity magazines" of more than 10 rounds are similarly regulated in the text of Initiative 16.
Failing successful registration, owners of these weapons are supposed to sell them to an approved firearms dealer or have them destroyed under penalty of the law.
The initiative will have to get 112,020 signatures in order to make the 2020 ballot. Once it gets 1,000 verified signatures, the Secretary of State's office will begin drafting a "ballot title," or summary of the measure.
The full text of Wasson's initiative may be read or downloaded below.