October 28, 2022

Article at Sentry News

Gun Safety Initiative on Oregon's 2022 Midterm Ballot

Courtesy of Steve Woods (Unsplash)
Courtesy of Steve Woods (Unsplash)

Nearly three million Oregonians will vote in the midterm election on November 8, 2022. Their voices have the power to change gun safety laws. Measure 114 is the first bill on the statewide ballot since 2000; voters approved criminal background checks at weapons shows.

The gun safety initiative has strong support and opposition, and since no one party dominates the other, the bill could fail. That is, it will fail if Oregon's registered voters do not cast their ballots because the party affiliation tallies are close: As of October 7, the state website indicates liberal voters narrowly outnumber conservatives, 1,043,175 to 750,718. Undeclared voters also outnumber conservatives; 939,643 and 750,718, respectively.

Nonetheless, Oregonians who support strengthening gun laws are more likely to vote for a candidate who supports firearm safety legislation. The July 8 to 16 Portland-based Oregon Values and Beliefs Center survey showed that 60% of respondents favor stricter gun laws.

The results might differ since the poll was done over three months ago. Pollsters asked how respondents planned to vote this November. In addition, the survey data could be negatively impacted since the questions followed two highly emotional mass shootings: The May 10 Tops supermarket shooting that took the lives of 10 people in Buffalo, New York, and the May 24 massacre at Robb Elementary School, with 19 children and two teachers left dead in Uvalde, Texas.

Gun Safety Measure Details

State Initiative 114 requires a person to apply for a permit to purchase firearms. The bill also mandates police maintain a permit/firearm database and limits magazine size to less than 10 rounds.

Those voting yes understand the legislation would require police-run background checks with a maximum application fee of $65. In addition, applicants must complete and pass gun safety training, including classroom work and live-fire exercises, before law enforcement authorities can issue a permit to buy or get firearms.

Courtesy of Oregon Dept. of Transportation (Flickr CC0)
Courtesy of Oregon Dept. of Transportation (Flickr CC0)

A yes vote also mandates that State police continue to conduct background checks. According to the Oregon Capitol Insider, the state police must compile a database of purchased gun permits approved by local agencies. If applications are denied, the applicant's file must state the reason.

Once the check is completed, under the proposed gun initiative, the state police have 24 hours to process applications. After that, the police chief or sheriff can deny the permit if it is determined that the applicant is or could be a danger to himself.

Finally, the gun safety measure's passage will criminalize gun magazines holding 10 rounds or more. Within six months of voter approval, the sale, use, or possession of larger-class magazines will be a Class A misdemeanor and is punishable by up to 364 days in jail, a fine of up to $6,250, or both.

Reasons to Support Measure 114

Supporters compared Oregon's gun violence deaths with bordering states. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Oregon documented 592 deaths by firearms in 2020 — 13 per 100,000 population. Washington's death by guns rate was 10.9; California's 8.5; Nevada's 17; and Idaho's 17.6.

The advocates went on to explain that unrestricted access to guns increases the likelihood of injuries or deaths, either to those who own them or to others.

Further touting the importance of gun safety education, Deschutes District Attorney John Hummel said: "When someone does not handle a firearm safely, accidental deaths can occur." He also supports the so-called waiting period, as the permit-to-purchase process would allow time for an intervention. "Suicide accounted for about 80% of the death, homicides for most of the rest.

Measure 114 Opposition

Opponents contend the bill's drafters cited unreliable cherry-picked data. They further claim that people who irrationally fear firearms drafted the gun safety measure.

Kevin Starrett, executive director of the Oregon Firearms Federation, proclaimed, "The measure is a fraud promoted by dishonest media and is misleading as the ballot measure that now has our streets littered with bodies of overdose victims."

Notably, gun ownership is not partisan. Additionally, requiring applicants to pass firearm safety training is sensible. Therefore, measure 114 initiative does not impede the right to own firearms.

Moreover, the Democratic Party of Oregon Gun Owners Caucus (GOC-DPO) believes that gun ownership is inalienable and declares, "We don't want your guns. We have our own." Based on that declaration, the opposition seems to have no obvious argument against Measure 114.

Written by Cathy Milne-Ware


Oregon Alliance: Solutions
OPB: Measure 114 would tighten gun laws in Oregon; by Lillian Mongeau Hughes
The News and Observer: Waiting period is baked into gun ballot measure in Oregon; by Andrew Selsky
Ballotpedia: Oregon Measure 114, Changes to Firearm Ownership and Purchase Requirements Initiative (2022)
Oregon Capital Insider: Measure 114 is first gun control initiative two decades; by Peter Wong
Oregon Capital Insider: Survey: Majority of Oregonians say they'll back candidates who support more gun control; by Garrett Andrews

Featured and Top Image by Steve Woods Courtesy of Unsplash
Inset Image Courtesy of Oregon Department of Transportation's Flickr Page - Creative Commons License