PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — This week, Oregon state officials are verifying the signatures that would put a major gun safety measure on the ballot this November.
In late May, with tens of thousands of signatures to go, it seemed impossible for Lift Every Voice Oregon to collect enough signatures for Initiative Petition 17 before the July deadline. However, the interfaith nonprofit got more than enough people to sign their names.
Reverend Mark Knutson of the Augustana Lutheran Church in Portland, and chair of Lift Every Voice, says he’s been working to pass stricter gun laws for decades.
“The only legislation alive in this country for public health around gun safety is in Oregon,” he said. “After Uvalde and Buffalo, those tragedies, people started stepping up and joining. And we had a surge in volunteers who went right to work.”
Knutson and his team gathered well over the required 112,000 signatures to land IP-17 on the November ballot.
“We have so many signatures. I have no doubt about the outcome,” Knutson said.
IP-17 would regulate gun sales and ownership in a few ways. It requires a permit to buy a gun, which includes passing a background check and training before getting a gun. The petition also bans high-capacity magazines that are over 10 rounds, such as the ones used in the mass murder of children in Uvalde.
KOIN 6 reached out to several gun store owners about IP-17 and many declined interviews or said they have no comment. One local store owner said that he doesn’t think IP-17 is the solution, saying it infringes on the rights of legal gun owners and that people will go to other states to buy firearms instead, a statement that Knutson strongly disagrees with.
“It does not infringe upon the rights of legal gun owners. And it’s been proven in other states because parts of this legislation (have) been enacted in other states and this been shown to reduce gun violence, suicides,” Knutson said.
Knutson says IP-17 would be the most progressive gun safety package in the state and the nation this year. As the Secretary of State’s office is verifying signatures this week, Oregonians will soon find out if they get to vote yes or no.
The state has until Aug. 7 to finish verifying and counting signatures, but they could finish sooner.