Saturday, September 24, 2011

Oregon Legislators Refuse to be Intimidated by the Gun Lobby

Unlike many legislative bodies elsewhere, the Oregon Senate and a substantial portion of the Oregon House have refused to be intimidated by the gun lobby.  Ceasefire Oregon applauds the many legislators who stood up to the gun lobby this year and refused to succumb to its strong-arm tactics.  We thank, in particular, Senators Ginny Burdick, Suzanne Bonamici, Jackie Dingfelder, and Floyd Prozanski and Representatives Mary Nolan, Carolyn Tomei, and Tina Kotek.  We sincerely thank all the legislators who refused to make it easier to obtain guns or to carry loaded, hidden handguns in our state.

At the behest of various elements of the gun lobby, other legislators introduced 25 bills that would have weakened Oregon’s gun laws, many substantially.

Ceasefire Oregon volunteers carefully tracked these bills throughout the session, conducted extensive research, submitted detailed written testimony against several bills, and attended hearings to testify in person against those bills.  We sent email alerts to our supporters urging them to contact legislators about specific bills, and many did.  We worked with other community groups on mutual concerns, and we were in regular contact with key legislators.

We are pleased to report great success this session.  Once again, the time and energy needed to defeat the dangerous bills meant that we could not advance bills we wanted to enact.  But all the time spent working to defeat those dangerous bills paid off.

Among the bills the gun lobby worked hardest to enact were bills that would have (1) permitted anyone with a concealed handgun license (CHL) from any state to carry loaded, concealed handguns in our state even if the person did not meet Oregon’s CHL requirements; (2) removed the Oregon State Police from conducting background checks for gun dealers, sending them directly to the FBI instead, and thus enabling Oregonians with serious mental health problems to nonetheless purchase guns (because their records aren’t in the FBI’s databases); and (3) required sheriffs to keep the names of CHL holders secret, thus ensuring that sheriffs could not be held accountable for their decisions regarding the granting of CHLs, precluding people with legitimate concerns about specific individuals from learning whether those people had CHLs, and preventing the media and other researchers from ascertaining exactly how many CHL holders commit crimes.

All those bills were defeated.  The gun lobby, in fact, saw only one of its proposals enacted, provisions regarding the carrying of firearms on ATVs, motorcycles, and snowmobiles.  Ceasefire Oregon opposed the original bill in principle, but decided early on that due to its limited impact, we would not spend our limited resources working against it.  After the language was combined with provisions curtailing the ability of felons to lawfully possess guns under state law, even parts of the gun lobby opposed the bill, which was enacted.  All of the gun lobby’s other bills were defeated.

In May the Senate Judiciary Committee held a hearing on whether Oregon should prohibit handguns carried by CHL holders in public schools.  A group of Ceasefire Oregon members attended the hearing to demonstrate that sensible gun restrictions have broad public support.

We at Ceasefire Oregon are all volunteers.  With your help and support, we will continue to stand up to the gun lobby and work to defeat its many attempts to make guns easily accessible and pervasive.

With additional volunteer help, we could also work to enact positive, common-sense gun laws, such as laws requiring that all gun purchasers first pass a background check, that all guns include chamber load indicators, and that no guns be allowed in certain public places, including schools.  Please let us know if you can help.


  1. It's great to note that not ALL lawmakers are in the deep pockets of the NRA.

  2. To me, common sense means based on evidence rather than emotion. Is there any evidence that mandatory training makes any difference in misuse? Are out of state license holders responsible for any statistically significant gun violence or accidents?

    How often has the media used open license records to do investigative reporting, or citizens to check up on an individual for a legitimate reason? Far more often, they merely violate the privacy of license holders by publishing the entire list--often including the data for an abused woman who was hiding from her abuser. Whether or not an abused woman is outed, publishing the list generally results in closing access to the list.

    Although the expense of a loaded chamber indicator is minimal, its utility is also minimal. People who have accidents due to not knowing the gun was loaded aren't likely to notice or understand most loaded chamber indicators. In some cases it is difficult to make an indicator without sacrificing the safety or reliability of the gun--Ruger's first attempt for their .22 pistols resulted in a design that caused the gun to fire without pulling the trigger under some circumstances if the indicator was bumped. Other designs slightly weaken the chamber area. A much more useful safety measure would be to promote and publicize Cooper's 4 rules of gun safety--four simple concepts, 94 words that do not significantly complicate gun handling, but require simultaneous violation of at least 2 for an accidental gun injury.

  3. That's good news, I agree with Japete:

    "It's great to note that not ALL lawmakers are in the deep pockets of the NRA. "

  4. This is the classic approach of biased pro-gun folks, who by the way, are the ones operating on emotion.

    Is there any evidence that mandatory training makes any difference in misuse?