PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) – It is day 158 of 2022, and although the year is less than halfway over, the Gun Violence Archives report there have been more than 247 mass shootings in the U.S. so far – including three in Portland.
Those statistics, and the stories that go with them, prompted one local gun owner to surrender her firearms to the Beaverton Police Tuesday afternoon.
KOIN 6 News was invited to follow Jenny Han, a working mother and self-proclaimed longtime gun enthusiast as she handed her firearms over to be destroyed.
While Han said she had always considered herself to be a responsible gun owner, she told KOIN 6 that the recent shooting events caused her to reconsider her stance on guns and she now feels she was part of the problem.
“When you hear about gun violence, you always think that’s happening, like far away to this other group. And I think that that’s not the case,” Han stated. “Everything’s getting closer. And so you have to take an active role in helping prevent things like that.”
The Cedar Hills local said for her, guns were a fond part of her upbringing.
“I was probably 7 or 8 when I went to summer camp and learned how to shoot a rifle,” Han recalled. “I was kind of hooked.”
Han told KOIN 6 News she loved the marksmanship of hunting and clay shooting and even went on to enroll as a member of pro-gun organizations.
But despite her past, Han said she felt compelled to turn in the rifle, handgun, and two shotguns she owned to the police, stating that her decision was not about rules or rights – but instead about values.
“I think there are a lot of us that are responsible gun owners who were not very vocal. We don’t come out, yelling about our right to bear arms,” Han said. “But I think that being silent is making us complicit to the problem. I think that we do have to speak up and we do have to acknowledge our role.”
Although Han could have legally sold her guns and received a return on her investment, she said she specifically chose to turn them over to law enforcement because she wanted the weapons out of circulation.
Beaverton Police said their agency allows residents to safely surrender firearms at their station and that all weapons and ammo are then sent to a third-party partner, where they melted down.
Due to safety concerns, police require gun owners to reach out ahead of time to set up an appointment and ask those turning over the guns to ensure that they are unloaded and locked before arrival.
While police did not want to provide a statement, they told KOIN 6 News although their department sometimes sees a rise in gun surrenders after mass shooting events, it is not common outside relatives to hand in unused weapons of elderly family members.
According to a BPD spokesperson, it is incredibly rare for their agency to see a gun owner like Han surrender their weapons.
“Some people have told me this is not going to have any impact,” Han said. “But even if one other person was inspired to do the same thing, hopefully, that’ll continue the chain reaction.”
KOIN 6 News reached out to local pro-gun lawmakers and the NRA for comment but did not immediately hear back.
As for Han, she says she feels more hopeful now that her guns are out of her hands and out of circulation and she hopes her actions will set a strong example for her children.
“I think that for us to effectively change we have to make a decision as a society together because that’s going to be more effective than having the government tell us ‘you can’t have these weapons,’ Han stated. “I think it’s more powerful to say, ‘we don’t need to have these weapons.’”
While most police agencies allow residents to surrender firearms, protocols vary based on jurisdiction.
For that reason, law enforcement encourages those who are looking to turn in guns or ammo to contact their local non-emergency line for details ahead of time.
Portland residents can call (503) 823-3333, and people who live in Beaverton can contact dispatch at (503) 629-0111.