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House changes still supported by advocates of regulation but opposed by firearms rights groups

COURTESY PHOTO: DREAMSTIME - Oregon lawmakers have amended a controversial gun storage bill in hopes of gathering support.A bill that combines storage requirements for firearms with a narrower ban on guns in some public places is headed for a vote of the Oregon House.

The House Rules Committee, on a party-line vote Friday, April 23, approved a revamped version of Senate Bill 554 and sent it to the full House. All four Democrats voted for it; all three Republicans against it.

The changes appear to have had no effect on group support or opposition to the bill, which the committee heard testimony on April 21 and 22. Advocates of firearms regulation still support it; advocates of gun rights still oppose it.

ocbPart of the revamped bill proposes requirements for firearms locks and storage already incorporated into House Bill 2510, which cleared the House Health Care Committee on a party-line vote on March 30 and was awaiting a House vote. Though still on the House agenda for April 26, House Bill 2510 is likely to be shelved.

If the full House approves the new combination bill, it returns to the Senate, which can vote to accept the changes — and send it to Gov. Kate Brown — or reject it and force a joint panel to negotiate the differences.

Under the revamped bill, guns must have trigger or cable locks, be stored in a locked container or in a gun room. An offense is a Class C violation, which carries a maximum fine of $500, unless someone under age 18 obtains access, in which case it is a Class A violation with a maximum fine of $2,000. No jail time is imposed for violations.

The bill also requires prompt reporting of stolen firearms. Its first sections are named in honor of Cindy Yuille and Steve Forsyth, who died on Dec. 11, 2012, in the Clackamas Town Center shootings. The assault-style weapon used to kill them was found to have been stolen.

The other part of the revamped bill drew dissenting comments from senators — including Democrat Ginny Burdick of Portland, the chief sponsor of the original bill — during a House Rules Committee hearing Wednesday, April 21.

But the committee went ahead and made changes that narrow the scope of a firearms ban included in SB 554, which passed the Senate on March 25.

The changes would still bar the estimated 300,000 holders of Oregon concealed-handgun licenses from bringing firearms into some public places. State courts, which often are in buildings maintained by counties, already are off-limits to firearms.

The scope of the ban would be narrower under the House version.

Licensees would be barred from bringing firearms into the Capitol, though not from other state buildings as originally proposed.

They would be barred from bringing firearms into the passenger terminals at the Portland, Eugene and Medford airports, defined as those with annual passenger traffic of more than one million. Passenger boarding areas and firearms shipments in luggage are controlled by federal law.

Firearms bans would be optional at Oregon Health and Science University, seven state universities, 17 community college districts and 197 school districts if their governing boards impose them on buildings and grounds under their control. Notices of bans must be clearly displayed on buildings and grounds and posted online. (Bans would not apply to public sidewalks and streets.)

The revamped version of the bill would drop the option for cities, counties and special districts to bar firearms from their buildings and grounds.

Offenses would be considered Class A misdemeanors with maximum punishments of one year in jail and a fine of $6,250.

The bill also would raise initial filing fees for concealed-handgun licenses from $50 to $100, and for renewals, from $50 to $75.

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