Many times as legislators we are asked to be neutral or impartial when we consider legislation. But when it comes to something as painful and personal as gun violence, there is no way we can set aside our experiences and our grief at the toll it has on communities across Oregon.
We are mothers, daughters, sisters and survivors who have joined the fight to end gun violence because we know every gun death is a preventable tragedy. We see the statistics that each day an Oregonian suffers a firearm fatality, and we know all too well the impact each of those deaths has on the fabric of our communities.
We take care of youth and other patients who are suicidal in our work in health care and know the risks created for that person by access to an unsecured firearm.
We see the anguish in families who have lost a child to "family fire," that is, with a firearm left unsecured in the home, and have seen the increasing number of these tragedies since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.
We have responded to emergency calls after such shootings, trying to revive a child as we hear their loved ones howling in grief from the next room. And we see the impact on students who fear entering a school building knowing that someday they may be asked to run, hide or fight when someone brings a gun onto campus.
It is impossible to have lived these experiences, heard these stories and remain a neutral observer. That is why we are proud advocates for Senate Bill 554. Oregon's House voted 34-24 Thursday, April 29, to send an amended version of the bill to the state Senate.
SB 554 takes proven, common-sense steps to address gun violence in Oregon. It is not an attack on the Second Amendment, or untested policy — it offers effective strategies with a track record of success in other states.
SB 554 requires that firearms be securely stored when they are not under the owners' immediate control. This will prevent unintentional shootings and suicides. Oregon has no requirements for gun owners to securely store their guns to prevent unintended access to them.
The bill also empowers school districts to restrict the presence of guns in their facilities, and it prohibits guns in the state Capitol. Guns have no place in our schools and our houses of democracy, yet those with a concealed handgun license cannot be prevented from bringing firearms into public buildings.
Many of us have come to the Capitol in the past to advocate for stronger gun laws, only to be told that posters are not allowed in the building — all while opponents openly carrying firearms are allowed full access to the building.
But even in the face of these attempts to intimidate us, we are not deterred. Recently, one of us was targeted in our home district with anti-Semitic flyers for supporting this legislation. Several of us have been the targets of doxing in the past when we have voiced support for gun safety legislation. Knowing they cannot defeat these proposals on their merits, yet again opponents have turned to intimidation and hate. We endure, standing up to these tactics and those who would allow the tragedy of gun violence to continue unabated.
State Rep. Rachel Prusak is from West Linn. Rep. Lisa Reynolds is from Portland. Rep. Andrea Salinas is from Lake Oswego. Rep. Dacia Grayber is from Tigard. Rep. Janeen Sollman is from Hillsboro. Rep. Wlnsvey Campos is from Aloha.
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