Oregonians have joined nationwide rallies for stricter gun regulations, with advocacy groups using the opportunity to collect petition signatures to radically change the state’s gun laws.
If petitioners gather and submit at least 112,800 signatures by July 12, two initiatives could be placed on the Nov. 7 ballot for voters to adopt or reject.
More than 52,000 signatures had been collected by the campaign as of June 13.
Should Initiative 17—the “Oregon Changes to Gun Ownership and Purchase Requirements Initiative”—get on the ballot and become law, anyone wanting to acquire any type of firearm would have to complete safety training, pass a criminal background check, and obtain a permit from local law enforcement, among other requirements.
Currently, such stringent measures only apply to Concealed Handgun License (CHL) applications.
The measure would also ban ammunition magazines over 10 rounds, except for current owners, law enforcement, and the military.
Initiative 18—the “Oregon Prohibition on Semiautomatic Firearms Initiative”—would ban an extensive list of commonly owned semiautomatic firearms and accessories, as well as prohibit the manufacture, importation, possession, use, purchase, sale, or transfer of a semiautomatic firearm.
The National Rifle Association (NRA) Institute for Legislative Action has come out against the initiatives.
“Despite recent data showing that guns being used in Portland’s rising crime rates are coming from three sources—stolen, straw purchases, and the underground market [all already illegal means]—these anti-gun citizens are coming after the law-abiding firearm owners of Oregon, and [their] guns,” said a statement on the NRA website.
Gun violence is on the rise in Portland this year, with an average of more than 20 shootings per week in 2022, according to the Portland Police.
The potential initiatives would be the latest in a series of gun regulations enacted in the state over the past five years.
In 2021, the Oregon Legislature passed SB54, a law regulating firearm storage and transfer, possession of a firearm in a public building, as well as increasing fees for CHL after a contentious legislative session.
That law prohibits CHL holders from carrying guns in some public buildings and requires guns be secured in a safe or disabled by a trigger lock.
“SB 554 mandates that your self-defense firearms remain locked up and useless, that you be held responsible for the criminal actions of the thieves who steal guns, and that you be banned from your [state] capitol building, the Portland Airport, and any school that decides that concealed handgun license holders no longer have a right to pick their kids up from school,” claimed the Oregon Firearms Federation on its website.
Because the law allows individual school districts to decide on adoption, it has led to a patchwork of policies.
The rural Fern Ridge School District, for instance, prohibits employees, contractors, and district volunteers from possessing firearms on campus.
“Someone who does not fall into one of those categories, and is licensed to conceal carry, may do so,” District Superintendent Gary Carpenter told The Epoch Times. “If a concealed carry holder does not keep their weapon concealed, which rarely happens, they are asked to leave the premises.”
Twenty miles east, the urban Eugene School District, plans to adopt a total firearms prohibition on campus in the coming weeks.
The state also passed a “safe storage law” in 2020, requiring gun owners to store firearms in a gun room or safe, or employ a trigger lock. If a gun owner does not abide by the law and a firearm is stolen and used in a crime, the owner can be held legally responsible.
In 2019, the state closed the “boyfriend loophole,” expanding the definition of domestic abusers to include intimate partners, who can be prohibited from purchasing a gun and must relinquish firearms they already own.
The state also enacted a Red Flag law in 2017, allowing for law enforcement or family members to ask a court to prevent someone in crisis from obtaining guns.