Challenges say gun storage plan 'unduly burdens law-abiding citizens'
SALEM — Three legal challenges have been filed against the ballot title for an initiative petition to impose storage requirements on Oregon gun owners.
The court challenge drastically shortens the time supporters have to gather signatures to get Initiative Petition 44 on the ballot, but they are publicly optimistic about the effort.
Ballot titles are the brief caption, summary and description of the result of a "yes" or "no" vote printed for each measure on the ballot. If anyone objects to the title, they can petition the Oregon Supreme Court to review the language.
The Oregon Supreme Court on Friday, June 15, consolidated the three challenges to the IP 44 ballot title into one case, and set a June 25 deadline for Oregon's attorney general to respond to the challenge. Challengers will then have until June 28 to file responses.
Initiative Petition 44, filed in early April, would require gun owners to secure their firearms in a lock box or using a trigger or cable lock. It would also require them to report if one of their guns is stolen or lost within 24 hours of learning of the theft or loss.
Failure to comply with those requirements would be considered a violation, not a crime.
The measure would also hold gun owners civilly liable for five years following an incident for injuries resulting from a failure to comply with the measure's requirements. Supporters of the petition — including family members of people killed in the shooting at the Clackamas Town Center in 2012 — want to get the petition on the ballot in November.
Challengers Keely Hopkins, state director for the National Rifle Association, and Paul Donheffner, legislative committee chair for the Oregon Hunters' Association, expressed concerns about regulating how gun owners store their weapons.
"...IP 44 dictates particular storage and transfer requirements while imposing conditions that unduly burden the ability of law-abiding citizens to use arms for self-defense and other lawful purposes," according to the petition. "Safety and storage is a matter of personal responsibility and subject to each individual's particular circumstances and needs."
Opponents of the ballot title for IP 44 also claim the caption, as written, focuses on the locking requirement and doesn't adequately describe the penalties for failing to comply. "While it is true there is no state or federal law that requires trigger/cable locks on firearms, that requirement that would be imposed by IP 44 is a minor change in the context of the consequences of not putting a trigger/cable lock on a firearm," wrote Dominic Aiello and Asha Aiello, who filed a petition Thursday, June 14. The third petition was filed by Kevin Starrett, head of the Oregon Firearms Federation.
Paul Kemp, one of the chief petitioners supporting IP 44, says that the group behind the measure, Oregonians for Safe Gun Storage and Reporting Lost/Stolen Firearms, has arranged to hire a paid signature gathering firm to try to meet the July 6 deadline.
Kemp says that his group is seeing "strong support" for the measure.