Oregonians will vote on gun measure, ban on high-capacity magazines
A measure that would require a permit and training prior to purchasing a gun is destined for the November general election ballot in Oregon.
If approved, the measure would also ban the manufacture and sale of magazines of more than 10 rounds on all firearms -- not just the handguns responsible for most of the gun violence in America, nor the assault-style weapons tied to recent mass shootings -- but also semiautomatic rifles and pistols used by hunters, competitive shooters and for self-defense.
The Secretary of State's office reported last week that Initiative Petition 17, dubbed the "Reduction in Gun Violence Act," had exceeded by nearly 10,000 the signatures needed to place the question on the ballot. The effort began in April, but by early May the number of signatures began to wane. That was until mass shootings in New York and Texas that killed dozens prompted an upsurge in petition signatures.
By late June, organizers said they had enough signatures to get the measure on the ballot, but continued the effort to ensure there were enough signatures if some were disqualified by the Secretary of State's office. County and state officials check and validate every signature as some are thrown out for being recorded incorrectly, being duplicates, not quite matching the voter's signature on their registration or for some other reason.
By July 18, state officials had validated 131,671 signatures, or 82.04% of the 160,498 signatures accepted for verification. The measure needed 112,020 to qualify.
The measure, sponsored by the group Lift Every Voice Oregon (LEVO), would require individuals to undergo safety training in both live-fire and classroom settings, as well as undergo a criminal background check before buying a firearm. It would also institute a database to track firearms sales.
The permit, according to the LEVO website, would be valid for five years and would be required along with a background check to purchase a firearm. In addition, those possessing large-capacity magazines would only be allowed to use them on their property, at shooting ranges, at competitions and during "lawful recreational activities such as hunting, provided they are transported to such locations in a located container separate from any firearm."
If approved and made into law, those found to be in violation of the measure could be charged with a Class A misdemeanor unless they have one or more prior convictions, in which case they could be charged with a Class C felony.
"The measure creates a whole new category of victimless crimes at a time when the police are grossly underfunded and real criminals are being release onto our streets," the Oregon Firearms Federation said recently on its website.
The federation further argued that the measure would require "live-fire training before a person can apply for a permit to purchase a firearm. (But) there are virtually no facilities that will be available for this training."
Initiative Petition 17 builds on anti-gun legislation adopted in Oregon over the past several years, most prominently the passage of House Bill 554 in the 2021 session of the Legislature. The so-called "safe storage" bill requires that locks be installed on stored firearms and exposes gun owners to civil litigation if their firearm was unsecured and used in a crime.
The bill also allowed public agencies such as K-12 schools, universities and community colleges to ban guns from their facilities.
OPB reporters contributed to this story.
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