Citing school safety, congressman supports raising purchasing age for semiautomatic weapons

Rep. Brad Witt still considers himself an ardent supporter of the NRA and Second Amendment rights, but that hasn't stopped him from advocating for new legislation that would restrict some gun purchases in Oregon.

The state representative for District 31 confirmed Wednesday that he's considering a package of bills that would, among other things, raise the age for purchasing semiautomatic weapons. Witt

"I'm working on what I casually refer to as sensible gun legislation," Witt said. He cautioned that anything he's considering is still in its infancy, noting "there's nothing drafted yet," but said he is gauging support for modest changes to Oregon's gun purchasing laws in a broader effort to help prevent school shootings.

"The proposal as it now stands would be to prohibit the purchase of semiautomatic firearms or firearms or magazines that are able to hold over 10 rounds to anyone under 21," Witt explained. Additionally, he said retailers should be able to implement their own age restrictions on gun purchases, without facing legal backlash for age discrimination.

He'd also like to see bump stocks outlawed. Bump stocks — devices that can be attached to a semiautomatic weapons to increase their firing speed — garnered increased scrutiny last October, when a gunman in a Las Vegas hotel carried an arsenal up to his hotel room and then fired into a crowd at an outdoor music festival.

"Bump stocks elevate the level of fire on a firearm to something very close and akin to an automatic weapon that was outlawed many decades ago during prohibition," Witt said.

Witt is a gun owner himself who has spent thousands in campaign funds on ticketed NRA events and has received at least $500 in campaign donations from the NRA. In May, he spent $1,000 in campaign funds with the Oregon Hunters Association and is noted as the state's top political contributor to the NRA, as reported by the Oregonian.

The congressman said he's received numerous emails and calls from constituents who say they're outraged over his proposal to "take away guns."

One of those constituents is Chris Brumbles of Deer Island. Brumbles is the Columbia County representative for the Oregon Firearms Federation- a 2nd Amendment rights advocacy group. His 19-year-old daughter, Hannah, is also in a legal battle with a St. Helens Walmart after the store refused to sell her a gun because of her age.

He sees Witt's proposals as flatly unconstitutional.

"He's violating his oath of office," Brumbles said. "The right to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed, period. OFF would like to see him go."

Witt says what he wants is far from a "gun grab," as OFF calls it.

"I just want to be abundantly clear. This has nothing to do with ownership," Witt said, "If grandpa wants to give you his favorite firearms, he can. The operative word in all of my proposals is 'purchase.'"

Witt said his two children, who are now grown and out

of the house, both learned about firearm safety at a young age.

It's children like his own and those in and beyond his district that sparked his call to action.

"It is a wide cross-section of students who have written, have called and have asked for help to be protected," Witt said. "They are concerned if not daily, at least on a regular basis that they go to school without adequate protections. It has been made abundantly clear to me by these students that the only people that can effectuate change to any of this, to these school shootings and this senseless slaughter and injury to these innocent people are the people in elected office."

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