My View: Anti-gun legislation would create more problems than it solves

by: TRIBUNE PHOTO: CHRISTOPHER ONSTOTT - Don Evans shows a customer a handgun at the Northwest Armory gun shop in Southeast Portland. If adopted, House Bill 3200 would outlaw nearly all the most common pistols, rifles and shotguns owned by Oregonians by classifying them as 'assault weapons.'Even though state Rep. Mitch Greenlick (D-Portland), the chief sponsor of the Ceasefire Oregon-inspired gun control measure known as House Bill 3200, has admitted the proposal is dead on arrival, law-abiding Oregon gun owners have reason for great concern.

HB 3200 illustrates not only how far anti-gun legislators are willing to go in trampling a citizen’s civil rights to achieve their end, but also their ignorance about firearms in general.

HB 3200 would have outlawed nearly all the most common pistols, rifles and shotguns owned by Oregonians by classifying them as “assault weapons.” A firearms owner would, within 120 days of enactment of the measure, have to either sell his firearms to a licensed dealer or surrender them to a law enforcement agency.

There was an exception for an owner to keep one weapon, but only by undergoing another background check for the firearm they already own and registering the firearm with the state.

The act of registration would have been considered implied consent for the Oregon State Police to enter their home to inspect the firearm and its storage. Not satisfied with simply violating the Second Amendment of the U.S. Constitution, the bill’s backers would not hesitate to violate our Fourth Amendment protection against unreasonable search and seizure and our Fifth Amendment protection of due process.

Gun control advocates are fixated on what they call “assault weapons.” To them, these military-looking rifles are somehow more dangerous than others. But the fact is they are mistaking form with function.

Any firearm that has the look of an AR-15, regardless of caliber or origin, is in their crosshairs to outlaw, even though functionally equivalent rifles without the military look are not. If you put the same barrel and receiver used by the AR-15 on a wooden stock without a pistol grip it is suddenly somehow no longer an assault weapon.

The expired 1994 federal assault weapons ban and most of the proposals being floated now focus on cosmetic features in the mistaken belief they make that firearm more lethal.

Gun control proponents frequently put forth a technological argument for their position. They insist that the founders could never have envisioned modern firearms so perhaps the protections of the second amendment should exclude semi-automatic weapons or certain types of ammunition, or maybe even limit citizens to owning muskets and shotguns.

But the founders could not have envisioned radio, television, the movies or the Internet. Should our First Amendment free speech protections be excluded from those media because they didn’t exist in 1789?

Besides, our Second Amendment rights are already technologically limited. The congressional firearms acts of 1934 and 1968 effectively prevent citizens from legally owning state-of-the-art military weapons.

The state Legislature is dealing with a last-minute rush of proposed bills that their sponsors would like to get through committee and onto the floor. No less than seven of those propose new forms of firearms restrictions. From requiring firearm owners to carry mandatory liability insurance to prohibiting concealed weapons in the state Capitol, there is no end to the creativity of the gun control crowd.

Nevertheless, I have heard from several legislators, some identifying themselves as members of the Democratic Gun Owners Caucus, that they will not consider any new firearms restrictions.

Still largely rural, Oregon is gun country. Thankfully, most or all of these bills will never be heard.

It’s ironic that Greenlick, who has also proposed requiring a doctor’s prescription to buy tobacco products, doesn’t see that his gun control ideas have been largely self-defeating.

With the talk of new restrictions, gun and ammunition sales are through the roof.

Dave Lister is a Tigard business owner, a sport shooting enthusiast and a former member of Portland’s Small Business Advisory Council.

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