Oregon lawmakers grapple with gun control issues


Oregon has a Red Flag Law in place

PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — Mass shootings in Gilroy, El Paso, Dayton. Triple shootings in Portland and Salem.

As pressure increases on legislators around the country, Oregon lawmakers are working on ways to eliminate gun violence.

Thursday, US Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said he spoke with President Trump about the gun issue. He said strengthening background checks for gun buyers and Red Flag laws will “lead the discussion” nationally.

Oregon Speaker of the House Tina Kotek vows to make a safe gun-storage law a top priority in the next legislative short-session in January.

But this effort will come after a bill failed to move forward that would have required gun owners to lock up their weapons or face charges if a minor gets the gun and injures someone. That bill was put aside in a deal by Gov. Kate Brown to get Republican lawmakers to return from their first walkout.

Sen. Ginny Burdick, the Portland Democrat who is one of the leading gun control lawmakers in the Capitol, said she agrees this should be a priority.

“I do believe that our priority needs to be on the safe storage,” Burdick told KOIN 6 News. “It’s documented through the country kids are getting ahold of guns, shooting other kids.”

State Sen. Ginny Burdick, D-Portland, August 8, 2019 (KOIN)

Oregon and Washington both have what’s known as a Red Flag Law, also known as an Extreme Risk Protection Order. Under that, a family member or law officer can ask a judge to order someone to hand over their guns for a year if they believe someone is dangerous to themselves or others and should not have guns.

That person is also prohibited from buying a gun during that time period.

At least one concrete proposal has come into view, though. Supporters of Initiative Petition 40, which would require gun owners to store their guns securely, filed an effort last month to get the issue on the ballot in November 2020, the Portland Tribune reported.

Petitioners hope that lawmakers pass a safe storage bill during the short session in 2020, but are moving forward with the initiative process to put it before voters in case the legislation doesn’t make it through.

US Rep. Jaime Herrera-Beutler, who represents Southwest Washington, is among those looking at how state laws are working.

In a statement to KOIN 6 News she said,”We absolutely need to pursue solutions that will combat these horrific attacks. … But inaction isn’t an option and I’m willing to pursue any bipartisan solution that keeps firearms out of the hands of those in mental health crisis as long as it contains strong due process protections.”

Kevin Hoar, the Communications Director for the Oregon Republican Party, told KOIN 6 News:

“Democrats that have total control of all three branches of State Government bear a special responsibility to find common ground with Republicans to advance legislation that actually makes everyone in Oregon safer. Instead, the Governor and Democrat lawmakers have chosen to overreach and propose legislation intended to render defenseless innocent law abiding civilians, while doing zero to increase the personal safety of Oregonians from criminals. The Oregon Republican Party stands firmly with the right of our citizens to protect themselves.”

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