PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — As the nation reels from the Texas school shooting Lift Every Voice Oregon is calling on state leaders and voters to take action.
Gun reform was at the forefront of Thursday’s press conference as community members reiterated that legislation is needed for change to happen.
“We know we have to turn the mourning into action,” said Rev. W. J. Mark Knutson of Augustana Lutheran Church. “We have to take sensible gun actions for public health right now. We cannot wait any longer.”
Two initiative petitions are on the table that would limit magazine capacity, require permit to purchase firearm and background checks.
Initiative Petition 17 would require those looking to purchase a firearm to get a permit. Gun owners would need to complete a background check and undergo a safety and live-fire training session.
The initiative would also limit high-capacity magazines to only 10 rounds.
The 18-year-old shooter in Texas had at least seven 30-round magazines.
Right now, if a background check takes longer than three days, firearms dealers can sell the gun anyway.
The group is gathering signatures to bring the option of stricter gun laws to Oregon voters in November.
“We can’t stand idly by and watch our children bleed,” Rabbi Michael Cahana of Congregation Beth Israel said. “These laws have been proven to make a difference. To make sure people who shouldn’t have guns don’t have access to those guns.”
By limiting high-capacity gun magazines and ensuring background checks go through before getting a gun, organizers of Lift Every Voice Oregon say these changes will undoubtedly save lives
Liz McKenna with Lift Every Voice Oregon urged Oregonians to make a change come November as the initiative is on this year’s ballot.
“We mourn their loss and their sadness. We can also do something,” McKenna said.
Mental health counselor Rev. Anthony Lathan added “I don’t want to be here today, but I have to lift my voice…I have to lift every voice to support this movement, to support Initiative Petition 17.”
Meanwhile, Initiative Petition 18, which is up in the 2023 Legislative Session, would ban the future sale of assault style weapons.
Oregon lawmakers passed a gun control measure last year, requiring gun owners to store their guns safely — keeping them out of children’s hands. The law also allows schools the option to prohibit people with a concealed carry license from bringing their guns into the buildings.
Because the law is so new, it will take years to collect data on its effectiveness, specifically in Oregon.
However, lawmakers told KOIN 6 News that other states, like Massachusetts, that have had safe storage requirements for years have seen around an 80% drop in both self-inflicted gunshot wounds and unintentional firearm injuries.
Oregon Representative Dacia Grayber (OR-D), of the 35th Congressional District, says all options are on the table for lawmakers to protect school kids in the state.
“I think that we pride ourselves in Oregon at being science and data-driven in the work that we’re doing. I can’t emphasize enough that we need to have congressional action. At this point, we have over 300,000 children who have been impacted by gun violence since Columbine and people are gonna say, you know, ‘you’re making this emotional,’ well, it is emotional. I mean, we have children dying in schools,” Representative Grayber said.
The representative went on to say that she believes the country needs federal action because Oregon is only as safe as its closest neighboring states.
Meanwhile, gun rights advocates that KOIN 6 News spoke to, do not think taking guns off the street will help, but instead say addressing mental health issues and improving school security and law enforcement is the answer.
KOIN 6 News reporter Elise Haas contributed to this report.