Oregon Firearms Legislative Report- February 28, 2014
HB 4035A and 4068A Pass Senate, Move to Governor’s Desk
On Tuesday, the Senate Judiciary Committee voted unanimously to move HB 4035A out of committee and to a vote on the Senate Floor. The bill passed 29-1 in the full Senate on Thursday, with Sen. Burdick (D-Portland) casting the single dissenting vote. HB 4035A would allow corrections officers to store their personal firearms in their vehicles while parked on Department of Corrections (DOC) property, as long as the officer has a valid Oregon CHL and keeps the gun locked securely in a trunk, jockey box, center console, etc.
The committee also voted unanimously on Tuesday to move HB 4068A out of committee and onto the Senate Floor. This bill would allow those who have received a single misdemeanor marijuana conviction, whether in Oregon or another state, to apply for a CHL. The applicant must also have completed an approved diversion program, and not have been convicted of the offense within the previous four years. The bill passed unanimously in the Senate on Thursday, meaning both it and HB 4035A will now move to the Governor’s desk to be signed into law.
Oregon Firearms Legislative Report- February 21, 2014
House Passes Marijuana/CHL, Corrections Officer Firearm Storage Bills
On Monday, February 17, two House bills concerning firearm storage by corrections officers and marijuana convictions as they relate to CHL application/renewal, respectively, passed off of the House floor with broad support.
HB 4035 was passed out of the Judiciary Committee last week and was on the House floor Monday morning. The bill makes a technical correction to law which will allow corrections officers, under specific circumstances, to carry a concealed weapon to work with the caveat that it is stored in the person’s vehicle in a locked box (jockey box, trunk, center console, etc). Rep. Andy Olson (R-Albany) spoke against the bill, stating that his preference was to have a locker inside the corrections institution where employees could store their weapons.
The bill passed on a 53-4 vote. Voting no were Reps. Andy Olson (R-Albany), Mitch Greenlick (D-NW Portland), Vicki Berger (R-Salem) and Phil Barnhart (D-Eugene).
HB 4068 passed unanimously on the House floor on Monday after passing out of the Judiciary Committee last week. This bill amends statute to modify requirements for CHL applicants by providing that a single conviction or completed diversion program for marijuana possession does not disqualify an applicant, if the offense was a violation or misdemeanor. The provisions of the bill would apply regardless of whether the offense occurred in Oregon or in another state.
The bill passed 57-0. Reps. Hicks (R-Grants Pass), Tomei (D-Milwaukie), and Kennemer (R-Oregon City) were not available to vote.
Firearms Legislation in Senate Judiciary Committee – Wednesday, February 19
On Wednesday, the Senate Judiciary held hearings HB 4035A and HB 4068A.
The American Federation of State and County Municipal employees opened the hearing in support of the legislation. Representatives specifically noted some of the dangers their members navigate just to get to work, along with the need to carry protection in rural parts of the state.
Collette Peters, Director of the OR Dept. of Corrections (DOC), reiterated the DOC’s opposition to the bill because of the safety and security issues it raises for their staff, as well as the state liability issues of having personal firearms on DOC premises. Peters mentioned that the bill, as written, only applies to DOC security personnel. This means that administrative, along with other staff, is not covered under the bill, which is another concern for the department. She also clarified that the prohibition of employees storing guns in their vehicles was a long-standing policy, not a result of recent statute changes as others had suggested. She stated that because of the current contraband statute, which conflicts with CHL standards and rights, someone bringing a concealed weapon onto DOC property would face prosecution. Peters also noted that DOC is dedicated to further analyzing the bill, as they are concerned about the safety of employees who have long daily commutes. DOC is also committed to working with their labor partners to ensure the best policy moves forward.
Daryl Fuller of the Oregon Sheriff’s Association testified in support of the bill, as his organization had originally asked for the bill’s introduction. Fuller stated that they had also requested the recently released -4 amendments, which broaden the definition of a completed diversion program, so as to allow any diversion program (for the same offense) completed in another state during any time period. Additionally, the -4 amendments would put the burden of proof concerning a completed marijuana diversion program on the applicant, rather than the sheriff or CHL licensing authority. As he did on the House side, Fuller stated that this isn’t a gun or marijuana issue, it’s an issue of treating everyone fairly under the law.
Kevin Starrett stated that though the Oregon Firearms Federation has not read the -4 amendments, they would be supportive if the amendments cover marijuana possession convictions prior to 1973, when such convictions were felonies.
Chair Prozanski mentioned that there is some angst over this bill from the Executive branch, though he didn’t go into detail.
Further discussion and possible work sessions on HB 4035A and 4068A have been carried over to the Tuesday, February 25 Senate Judiciary Committee meeting, because the committee didn’t have the proper paperwork needed to move forward. Chair Prozanski also noted that there are several moving parts in the Senate right now, and movement on these bills will be on hold until the unrest is settled.
Gun Bill Hearings – Week of Feb. 14, 2014
Background Checks Move to Rules Committee, Stays Alive
On Thursday, SB 1551, regarding background checks for private transfers of guns, was moved out of the Senate Judiciary Committee to the Rules Committee through a procedural move. The move allows the bill to stay alive past what is commonly referred to as the Chamber of Origin Deadline. Had the bill not been moved Thursday, it would have died in committee without any further consideration. Sen. Roblan (D-Coos Bay), who has some concerns with the bill, called for the move and was supported on party lines by Sen. Prozanski (D-Eugene) and Sen. Dembrow (D-Portland). The motion was opposed by Sen. Kruse (R-Roseburg) and Sen. Close (R-Albany).
Sen. Close served notice of a “minority report” on the bill as a procedural move to maintain standing to substitute a Republican version of SB 1551. Should the Senate President exercise his authority and pull the bill out of committee to the floor for a full Senate vote, the Republicans will be ready. The politics of this bill are absolutely playing out right now. Rural Senate Democrats can see the implications in the November general election if they are forced to vote on SB 1551. Sen. Alan Bates (D-Ashland) won reelection by less than 200 votes in 2010 and would be affected by this bill, as would Sen. Roblan (D-Coos Bay).
Looking forward, the Senate Rules Committee is comprised of two Republicans and three Democrats. That said, a member of the Rules Committee, Sen. Lee Beyer (D-Springfield) is in the similar situation of representing a rural district, and therefore will face a difficult vote on this bill if it goes to a full committee vote. Political gamesmanship is swirling around this bill. We anticipate SB 1551 will be on deck for the remainder of the session as a bargaining chip as legislative vote trading commences in earnest when the session draws to a close.
CHL Marijuana Exemptions and Correction Officer Vehicle Storage Bills to House Floor
On Wednesday and Thursday, the House Judiciary Committee held work sessions on HB 4035. This bill would allow corrections officers employed by the Oregon Department of Corrections (ODC) to lawfully possess a weapon in a locked gun box in the officer’s personal vehicle, when the vehicle is parked in a department parking lot and the officer is present at the department in official capacity. The officer must have a valid Oregon CHL.
The committee unanimously adopted -3 amendments on Wednesday, which do three main things:
• Replace the term “weapon” with the term “firearm.”Replace the term “gun box” with a list of locked spaces (glove box, trunk, center console, etc.) where the gun can legally be stored and locked in the officer’s vehicle while parked in an ODC parking lot.
• Address the conditions of employment issue. With these amendments, corrections officers can only be prohibited from storing a personal firearm in their personal vehicle (while parked in an ODC parking lot) if that is part of their particular conditions of employment.
There was also discussion on how these rules would apply to those who live in Idaho but work in Oregon, as many Idaho residents near the Oregon-Idaho border work at prisons near Ontario and Pendleton. It was clarified that these Idaho residents could obtain an Oregon CHL from an Oregon county sheriff in a border county; an Idaho CHL, however, would still not be valid.
On Thursday, the committee voted to move the bill to the House floor with a “do pass” recommendation. Rep. Olson (R-Albany) and Rep. Tomei were the only two no votes. Rep. Olson stated that he would rather have allowed the Oregon Department of Corrections more time to review and improve on the bill (for a possible 2015 bill) and add a provision allowing corrections officers to store their personal guns in on-site lockers, rather than their cars.
The committee also held work sessions Wednesday and Thursday on HB 4068, a bill that would modify requirements for CHL applicants by providing that a single conviction or completed diversion program for marijuana possession does not disqualify an applicant, if the offense was a violation or misdemeanor. The provisions of the bill would apply regardless of whether the offense occurred in Oregon or in another state.
The committee adopted the -2 amendments into the bill on Wednesday. These amendments provided clarifying language, and stated that someone receiving a single marijuana possession conviction prior to 1973 (when it was still a felony) could still apply to receive and/or renew their Oregon CHL. This had been the main point of concern from last week’s hearing.
On Thursday, the full committee voted to move the bill to the House floor with a “do pass” recommendation. Rep. Tomei was the only no vote on the committee.
We will update you on any further developments for each of these important pieces of legislation.
Gun Bil Hearings – Week of Feb. 7, 2014
House Judiciary Hearing on HB 4035
On Monday, February 3, the House Judiciary Committee held a hearing on HB 4035, a bill that would allow Oregon Department of Corrections (ODC) corrections officers to lawfully possess a weapon in a locked gun box in the officer’s personal vehicle when the vehicle is parked in an ODC parking lot and the officer is present in official capacity. Rep. Jeff Barker (D-Aloha) is the bill’s chief sponsor.
ODC Inspector General Leonard Williamson testified that ODC has historically opposed this type of legislation due to concerns over safety and security. The fear is that inmates on custodial crews that clean prison parking lots could break into vehicles and steal firearms. Williamson urged the committee not to move the bill but rather allow ODC time to study the issue with its labor partners and other stakeholders for the 2015 Session. Rep. Wayne Krieger (R-Gold Beach) asked why the ODC had not already discussed the issue with stakeholders if it had known about the legislation for seven months. Williamson said that the issue had not come up.
Kevin Starrett of the Oregon Firearms Federation stated that it does not make sense that a corrections officer cannot leave a firearm locked in their vehicle in an ODC parking lot while a private citizen can. Starrett also asked why the word “weapon” was used in the bill, rather than “firearm,” and said that the term “gun box” was unclear. Rep. Barker acknowledged the need to make wording changes. Starrett suggested that updating ODC conditions of employment would be the preferred way to fix this situation, rather than legislation.
Jack Dempsey stated that the Association of Oregon Corrections Employees (AOEC) strongly supported the bill. He brought up Buddy Herron as an example for why this legislation is needed. Herron was a corrections officer who has murdered on his way to work when he pulled over assist a vehicle on the side of the road.
Mary Botkin of the Oregon Chapter of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) stated her organization’s support for the bill. Botkin noted that this really became an issue last year when the Department of Administrative Services and ODC instituted new rules that prevented corrections officers from storing firearms in their vehicles while parked in ODC parking lots. She noted that prior to the new rules, corrections officers had been storing weapons in their personal vehicles for 30 years without incident. In response to questions from Reps. Barker and Olson, Botkin said that AFSCME would not be opposed to the bill’s concealed handgun license (CHL) requirement, or to on-site lockers for officers’ personal firearms.
HB 4035 is scheduled for a work session on Tuesday, February 11, at 1:00 pm.
House Judiciary Committee Hearing on HB 4068
On Wednesday, February 5, the House Judiciary Committee held a meeting on HB 4068, a bill that would modify requirements for CHL applicants by providing that a single conviction or completed diversion program for marijuana possession does not disqualify an applicant if the offense was a violation or misdemeanor. Reps. David Gomberg (D-Central Coast) and Kim Thatcher (R-Keizer) were the chief sponsors of the bill.
Rep. Gomberg introduced HB 4068 at the request of the Oregon Sheriff’s Association. He said the bill will harmonize the method for treating CHL applications as they relate to in and out of state marijuana infractions. Currently, Oregon residents can apply for CHL permits if they have received a single misdemeanor conviction for marijuana possession in the state of Oregon, so long as the offense occurred at least four years prior to the application. Those who have received a misdemeanor conviction for marijuana possession in other states, however, cannot apply for a CHL in Oregon.
Daryl Fuller testified on behalf of the Oregon State Sheriff’s Association in support for the bill. He said the new statute would treat everyone equally under the law.
Kevin Starrett of the Oregon Firearms Federation also testified in favor of the bill. He raised the question as to whether there was a way that someone who received a marijuana conviction prior to 1973 could obtain or renew their CHL, given that marijuana possession was a felony prior to that time and new statutory language disqualifies them. He stated that he receives two or three calls each week from people who can’t apply for or renew their CHL because they received a marijuana possession conviction prior to 1973.
David Thomason, an accountant who has been denied a CHL license because of a misdemeanor conviction he received in Washington in 1996, also testified in support, as did Zeve Steinfeld, President of Portland State University Students for Concealed Carry.
HB 4068 is scheduled for a work session at 1:00 pm on Wednesday, February 12.
Senate Judiciary Committee Hearing on SB 1551
On Thursday, February 6, the Senate Judiciary Committee held a hearing on SB 1551, a bill that would require criminal background checks for private firearm transfers. Sen. Floyd Prozanski (D-South Lane and North Douglas Counties) is the bill’s chief sponsor. SB 1551 includes exemptions for the transferor’s family members (spouse/domestic partner, parent/stepparent, child/stepchild, sibling, grandparent, grandchild, and niece/nephew) and inherited and antique firearms.
Legislative staff clarified that both current statute and this bill allow for loans of firearms for hunting trips and trips to the shooting range without a background check. The Oregon State Police (OSP) stated that they approved over 261,000 background checks and denied 2,151 in 2013. OSP also clarified that records for those who have been approved are kept for up to ten days after approval, and then purged; records for those who have been denied are maintained for up to five years after denial. OSP estimated that approximately three to six percent of all checks are pended because of incomplete information.
Oregon Governor John Kitzhaber (D) testified in support of SB 1551, stating that it is a reasonable, common sense measure that provides for public safety by preventing criminals from obtaining guns.
Mark Kelly, the husband of former Arizona Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords, also testified in support of the bill. He pointed to recent polling that showed 78% of Oregonians approve of background checks as evidence that Oregonians support this measure. He also said that over 1,200 Oregonians have signed his wife’s background check petition. He cited statistics showing that residents of the 14 states that have expanded background checks beyond federal standards show lower rates of gun violence.
Donna Henderson, Assistant Chief of Investigations for the Portland Police Bureau, testified in support of the bill on behalf of her bureau. She said that the bill will fix the existing loophole that allows criminals to obtain firearms through private party purchases. Other notable testimony in support of the bill came from Ceasefire Oregon, Oregon Moms Demand Action, and the League of Women Voters of Oregon.
Dan Reid, regional representative for the NRA, stated opposition to the bill from his Oregon membership. Reid stated that criminals will still get guns through theft, straw purchases and other means, and that this legislation wouldn’t have prevented any of the mass tragedies that have occurred recently in the United States. He claimed that this legislation is really part of a larger anti-gun agenda. Reid pointed to problems with the bill and the current background check system, including the fact that very few people who fail background checks are prosecuted, and that the bill doesn’t provide adequate funding to distribute the necessary compliance forms for distribution. He also intimated that the line on private transfers vs. loans of firearms would still be quite murky.
Kevin Starrett of the Oregon Firearms Federation also testified against the bill, stating that this is really a gun registration bill that will be used for future gun confiscations. Sen. Dembrow (D-Portland) objected to the notion that this is a gun registration and confiscation bill, given that 99 percent of applications are approved, and these records are purged after ten days.
Manuel Martinez, a Cuban refugee and strong Second Amendment supporter, testified in opposition, stating that the bill is a step closer to Marxism and complete disarmament of the American people. Rep. Kim Thatcher (R-Keizer) testified against the bill, saying that those pushing for more background checks serve as a de facto lobbyist group for criminals.
Chair Prozanski ended the hearing after two and a half hours and significant testimony. The bill was subsequently scheduled for a work session on Wednesday, February 12, although it is not likely that Prozanski will have the votes needed to move the bill out of committee.
Gun control hearing at Oregon Legislature brings out emotion on both sides
Harry Esteve – The Oregonian
Feb. 6, 2014
SALEM – In a scene becoming increasingly familiar, a packed hearing room at the state Capitol heard hours of sometimes emotional, sometimes bitter testimony over a proposal to expand Oregon’s background check laws for gun sales.
Supporters of the expansion included Mark Kelly, husband of former Arizona Congresswoman Gabrielle “Gabby” Giffords, who barely survived a 2011 shooting, and relatives of two shoppers who were killed by a lone gunman at the Clackamas Town Center in 2012.
Opponents were mostly gun rights activists, at least one wearing a handgun belted around his waist. Most said the bill would not stop the kind of random shootings that make headlines, and would force law-abiding gun buyers to go through “humiliating” background checks.
Supporters said Senate Bill 1551 would close one of the last loopholes in Oregon’s gun control laws by requiring background checks for private party gun sales.
“When dangerous people get guns, we are all vulnerable,” Kelly told the Senate Judiciary Committee, which is considering the bill. He said he and his wife are longtime gun owners, but strongly believe in laws aimed at “keeping guns out of the hands of those who shouldn’t have them.”
Kelly was joined by Gov. John Kitzhaber, who called the bill “a reasonable step that shows Oregon is being serious” about keeping felons from obtaining guns.
But the bill faces strenuous opposition. Daniel Reid, a representative of the National Rifle Association, questioned the need for the law. Criminals, Reid said, get their guns on the black market and wouldn’t be subject to the checks. He took issue with Kelly’s testimony.
“I’m disappointed that tragedies like these are being exploited by the anti-gun agenda,” Reid said. When it comes to preventing them, he said, “This legislation would not have been effective.”
The committee took no action, and it was unclear whether all the talk changed any minds. Sen. Floyd Prozanski, D-Eugene, chairman of the committee and author of the bill has said he fully expects a Senate floor vote on the bill. He said the bill closes one of the last remaining loopholes in Oregon’s background check laws. Last year, a similar bill never made it out of committee.
Prozanski showed a combative streak during the hearing. He pressed Reid why an organization with the slogan “guns don’t kill people, people kill people,” would be against a measure that would prevent people who kill people from getting guns.
“Let’s enforce existing laws,” Reid said, noting that felons frequently get released early from prison.
Prozanski also got into a back-and-forth with Kevin Starrett, founder and director of the Oregon Firearm Federation, and one of the strongest voices in the state for gun owner rights. Starrett criticized the bill as another backdoor way of forcing law-abiding gun owners to register their weapons with the state.
“The idea that this is about felons is a joke,” Starrett said. “If this is not a gun registration bill, why are we recording the make, model and serial number of every gun?”
Prozanski noted testimony from Tricia Whitfield, who runs the Oregon State Police’s background check program. Whitfield testified that once someone passes a background check when buying a gun, the information is purged after 10 days.
Starrett said it would be easy for the police to make copies of their databases, and questioned whether the records are actually purged.
“I understand your conspiracist perspective,” Prozanski said.
“It’s not a conspiracy theory,” Starrett shot back. “But you know what Senator, it’s happening.”
Jenna Passalacqua, whose mother Cindy Yuille was killed during the Clackamas shootings, questioned why the Legislature has taken not action to tighten gun laws since that incident.
“Nothing has changed,” Passalacqua said. “The fact that this is the strongest bill we have on the table right now is an embarrassment.”
Click here to read the original article in the Oregonian.
Fact vs. fiction: The bill to expand background checks for gun sales
Anna Staver- Statesman Journal
January 24, 2014
Before the first gavel has fallen in the February Legislative session, supporters and opponents of a bill to expand background checks for gun sales are sparring over the proposed language.
If the verbal exchanges during a packed hearing of the Senate Interim Committee on Judiciary last week were a prelude, gun control could be the partisan fight of the 2014 session.
So, I decided to give both sides a chance to answer questions about the bill’s wording for my first column on Oregon politics.
Who is exempt from background checks if this bill passes?
Gun owners wouldn’t need to use the Firearm Instant Check System for a background check to sell or give a gun to their spouses, domestic partners, parents, step-parents, step-children, siblings, grandparents, grandchildren, nieces, nephews and personal representatives or trustees who are designated to carry out a person’s will.
Sen. Floyd Prozanski, D-Eugene, plans to amend the bill to include first cousins and is open to other suggestions like adding aunts and uncles.
That would still prohibit a person from giving a gun to a boyfriend or girlfriend, said Kevin Starrett, executive director for the Oregon Firearms Federation.
Would this bill create a state registry of gun owners?
“It’s a step in that direction,” Sen. Jeff Kruse, R-Roseburg, said. “I think they are wanting to get to it one step at a time.”
The bill would require a gun owner to submit the make, model and serial number of the gun they are selling along with the buyer’s personal information.
“Anybody who says this bill is not a registry cannot read,” Starrett said.
If the Legislature wanted to create a statewide gun registry, Prozanski said, it’s been collecting this information on dealer and gun show sales for 23 years.
“It’s not a registry. [The bill] extends what our current law has been since 1989; a process for background checks to be completed,” Prozanski said. “All we are doing is closing a loophole.”
Could the bill be effective without a gun registry?
Kruse doesn’t think so.
He and Starrett both said tracking serial numbers on guns would be the only way to trace whether you sold your neighbor a shotgun without a background check.
“How do we know now if someone doesn’t check during a private sale at a gun show,” Sen. Michael Dembrow, D-Portland, said.
Dembrow and Prozanksi both said they believe most people would follow the law.
“We have a code of honor as citizens that you are going to follow the law,” Prozanski said.
How long does the state keep the personal information it collects from background checks?
If you pass your background check, OSP destroys your information after 10 days.
The only exception to the 10-day rule is if you pass, but you had an out-of-state conviction. Keeping those records can expedite the approval process if you buy another gun.
But if you fail the background check, Oregon keeps your data for up to five years.
What would be the consequences for not running a background check?
The bill states violators could be punished with up to 30 days imprisonment and/or a $1,250 fine for a first offense. A second offense could result in a maximum prison term of five years and/or a $125,000 fine.
“If we are dealing with people we are attempting to target, that’s fine,” Kruse said. “But I’m worried about making criminals of people who aren’t really criminals. People who are going to say this is a violation of my Second Amendment.”
Could you loan your friend a gun for the weekend?
The bill would require a background check for gun sales, gifts and leases. That means you can loan a friend your 12-gauge shotgun for a hunting trip or share guns at a shooting range.
“This really is focused on people who are transferring so that person then has free use over a long period,” Dembrow said.
Would this bill confiscate weapons or lead to the confiscation of weapons?
Nothing in the bill would allow Oregon to restrict specific gun models or ammunition, but Starrett worried that’s the end game.
He pointed to New York as an example of a state that used a gun registry as a checklist when it banned certain guns and ammunition.
“You don’t confiscate things unless you know where they are,” Starrett said.
Prozanski disagreed, saying, “In the 23 years that we’ve had background checks in this state, it has never led to confiscation of gun.”
What happens to felons when they fail a background check?
Opponents of the background check bill have said felons who are turned down for gun purchases face no consequences under the current law.
Oregon State Police spokesman Gregg Hastings said sellers aren’t told why a person was denied, and OSP doesn’t notify parole or probation officers.
At first blush it would look like there aren’t consequences for failing a background check, but Prozanski, who works as a prosecutor in Eugene and Florence, said he is working on a case where someone is facing a parole violation for trying to buy a gun.
The answer seems to depend on the city and the prosecutor.
Click here to read the original article in the Statesman Journal.
Gun control: Oregon Senate panel introduces universal-background-check bill
By Christian Gaston- The Oregonian
January 17, 2014
Oregon senators briefly discussed a bill Friday that would require background checks on private gun sales. The session was a preview of what’s likely to be the most partisan debate in the February legislative session.
Sen. Floyd Prozanski, D-Eugene, said Friday that the bill — which is very similar to a bill that failed to get a vote last year — will move forward. He has previously expressed confidence that it would pass.
But Sen. Jeff Kruse, R-Roseburg, who serves with Prozanski on the Senate Judiciary Committee, said bringing the bill back from the dead amounts to political posturing.
“It’s not going to pass. I think this is being done for political reasons,” Kruse said. “I think maybe to target a couple members of the Senate.”
Kruse is likely talking about Sen. Bruce Starr, R-Hillsboro, and Sen. Betsy Close, R-Albany. Both serve districts where Democrats have a voter registration edge. Close has picked up a challenger in House Rep. Sara Gelser, D-Corvallis, but no Democrat has announced a bid against Starr.
If the bill comes to the floor, Republicans suspect Democrats will use “no” votes from Starr and Close against them in the November election campaign. But unease also lies in Democratic ranks over the gun vote’s potential to hurt them at the ballot box.
Close, who also serves on Judiciary, said she thinks the Legislature spent enough time on the issue last year.
“My concern is that we did have this legislation last session, it did not have wide support, it did not have the votes to go to the Senate floor,” Close said. “So I wonder if it’s wise to introduce it as a committee bill.”
The committee approved the bill on a party-line vote, with Close and Kruse opposed, in front of a packed room. Gun-control opponents wanted to testify against the bill, but the hearing was a work session during which public testimony isn’t allowed.
“All the bills that are going to be introduced today will have public hearings,” Prozanski told the audience. “You will have that opportunity during the session starting in February.”
Prozanski denied that introducing the bill was pure politics.
“The goal of this bill, what it is being reintroduced for, is to reduce felons’ easy access to guns,” Prozanski said.
The bill includes changes to the previous background check bill that broadens exemptions for family members who sell or give guns to other family members. Prozanski said the bill doesn’t prevent anyone from loaning a gun to a friend and isn’t the first step to statewide gun registry.
“I do not support and will not support gun registration,” Prozanski said.
Current Oregon law requires a background check on sales at gun shops and gun shows, but private sales can occur without one.
Sen. Michael Dembrow, D-Portland, said the political landscape could be different this year, as the background-check bill is advancing on its own. Last year, it was joined by three measures changing rules for concealed handgun licensees. All of them died without a vote.
“I believe that the issue of criminal background checks is one over which there is broad consensus, or let’s say broader consensus,” Dembrow said. “In my experience if there’s anything that a lot of people can agree on, it’s keeping guns out of the hands of criminals with a good background check system.”
Click here to read the original article in the Oregonian.
Background Checks Bill to be Introduced in Upcoming Session
Senator Ginny Burdick (D-Portland) is reintroducing SB 700-A (2013) as a Senate Judiciary Committee bill for the February Session. This bill will be identical to SB 700-A, except that it: (1) adds an exemption for transfers to a niece or nephew and (2) gives gun dealers immunity from civil liability if they facilitate a background check for a private sale. The Judiciary Committee will vote on whether to introduce the bill during their legislative days meeting on January 17. We expect a hearing to be held no earlier than February 3 and no later than February 13.
We will provide a detailed breakdown and evaluation of the bill once there is an official version.
Oregon Castle Doctrine Ballot Initiative
Below is a summary of Oregon Initiative Petition #10, the Oregon Castle Doctrine Act. This act will appear on the general election ballot in November 2014 if petitioners are able to gather the requisite 87,000+ valid signatures by July 3, 2014.
Please note that petitioners are out gathering signatures to get this on the ballot and will be looking for your signature.
Oregon Initiative Petition #10- Oregon Castle Doctrine Act
-Residents are not subject to any civil or criminal liability resulting from the use of physical force (including lethal force) against an intruder. Such use of force is presumed to have occurred in self-defense or in the defense of a third party
-Landowners are “not liable for any injury, death or other damage suffered by a trespasser on the land where such injury, death, or other damage is caused by any condition of the land or its fixtures.” (This provision doesn’t protect landowners who place a spring gun or other device for the purpose of injuring a person.)
-Intruder is defined as a person who is committing criminal trespass in the first degree or burglary in the first or second degree.
-Land is defined as “all real property, whether publicly or privately owned.”
-Owner means the “possessor of any interest in any land, including but not limited to possession of a fee title. Owner also includes a tenant, lessee, occupant or other person in possession of the land.”
-Resident is defined as “any person who is lawfully present in a building or dwelling.”
-Trespasser is defined as” any person, 18 years of age or older, who unlawfully enters or remains on the land.”
Oregon Gun Owners 2013 Legislative Report
Oregon’s 77th Legislative Assembly began the session with an aggressive agenda. Public Employee Benefits, education funding and other policy issues, including gun control legislation, were priority agenda items for many members of the Legislature. This was the first full session since the Oregon constitution was amended to require annual sessions of the legislature. With the transition to annual sessions, the attitude of the body has shifted to that of being a full-time legislature. Although laws can only be passed during specified times of the year, legislators are far more engaged through the course of a year than they have ever been. The Legislature will meet throughout the interim in workgroups, taskforces and “Committee Days,” where legislative committees meet outside of session to hold informational hearings on potential policy changes.
Momentum for strict gun control legislation swept across the nation this year following the mass shootings in Connecticut and Clackamas Town Center in Happy Valley, Oregon. Gun control advocates urged Congress, State and local governments to apply regulatory vehicles to limit second amendment rights as they relate to gun ownership and the increasing bureaucracy that surrounds gun ownership. In Oregon, anti gun legislators introduced highly controversial firearm legislation that would have had a significant impact on law-abiding gun owners; however, Second Amendment proponents were successful in silencing a legislative call for ill-advised regulation of firearms.
Legislators from nearly every corner of the state received calls from constituents both supporting and opposing legislation that sought to truncate Second Amendment rights. Moderate Democrats, such as Sen. Betsy Johnson (D-Scappoose) received considerable correspondence over the issues due to their moderate stance on firearms issues in their respective chambers. Complicating this issue to a severe degree is that in late April, Sen. Johnson was severely injured in an automobile accident leaving her sidelined for several weeks during the session. Johnson is a key swing vote in the Democrat controlled Senate where the draconian ant-firearms legislation was being proposed. Thankfully, the rules of the senate require a constitutional majority (16 votes) and not a majority of those present in order to pass legislation. The absence of Sen. Johnson would not allow action on gun control legislation to occur without her key vote until very late in the session.
OGO was present in Salem every day, and for the entirety of the firearms conversation. I am happy to report that we were one of the most significant voices for protecting gun rights. The next step in the process will be to monitor workgroups and taskforces, as well as ballot the ballot measure process as anti gun groups are seeking new ways of regulating your gun rights at the ballot box.
Gun control advocates in Oregon fought losing battle in Oregon Legislature
Coming into this session OGO had a definitive sense that elected officials at the state and federal level were calling for greater gun control regulations, severely impacting Second Amendment rights. In Oregon, many feared that the urban, liberal members of the Legislature would commandeer legislative action and force onerous regulatory barriers on law-abiding citizens and their right to own and carry firearms. While this happened to a small degree, OGO’s presence seemed to bottle up the anti-firearms rhetoric and focus that conversation on issues related more to public safety and mental health.
Oregon’s House of Representatives was relatively quiet on the issue of firearms in 2013. House Democrats like Mitch Greenlick (D-Portland) and Alissa Keny-Guyer did sponsor legislation aimed directly at firearms owners, but they did not make a significant push for their bills. There are several reasons for the low profile, but chief among them is that the Oregon Gun Owners have made a point to support and educate rural House Democrats that believe in 2nd amendment rights. For this reason, the votes were not there to ram firearms restrictions through the process, as is the M.O. we have seen from the Senate. The House did have its fair share of bad legislation, but House Judiciary Chair Jeff Barker (D-Aloha) and House Majority Leader Val Hoyle (D-W. Eugene) did an excellent job vetting legislation to ensure that end products have an impact on public safety while not eroding constitutional rights to bear arms.
The following are a few of the bad house bills that were introduced, but were not given any hearings in the 2013 session.
• HB 3200 would have established a ban on assault rifles, limited magazine sizes and made the transfer of the afore mentioned illegal, among other things
• HB 3413 would have made it a crime of endangering a minor by allowing access to a firearm. It would also prohibit transfer of firearm to person convicted of endangering a minor by allowing access to a firearm for five-year period after conviction.
• HB 3114 would have allowed public universities, Oregon Health & Science University, and community college districts to prohibit firearms possession on campus, including possession of concealed weapons.
There were four bills that gained considerable traction this year in the Oregon Senate:
• SB 347 would have established a prohibition on CHL carry in Oregon schools
• SB 699 would have expanded a prohibition on open carry in public buildings
• SB 700 would have expanded requirements for background checks for virtually all firearm sales
• SB 796 would have required concealed handgun licensees to pass a firing range test
SB 700, in particular, became a viable vehicle in the Legislature once it became clear Senate Democrats thought that they had an argument to sway Sen. Johnson to support the measure. The bill moved around in Senate for months being worked and amended until it was finally scheduled for a public hearing in the Senate Judiciary Committee. Votes existed to move the legislation out of the committee, but when it came down to the vote count in the full Senate it was obvious that the votes did not exist to move legislation through that chamber and over to the House for further consideration. The bill drove a legislative and public conversation about whether Oregon should change its existing statutes over background checks. The gun show loop hole was closed in Oregon several years ago, yet legislators were adamant that one major way to reduce gun violence is through increased background checks, a severely flawed methodology.
In early April, the Senate Judiciary Committee held a heavily attended public hearing for the slate of proposed firearm regulations. Gov. John Kitzhaber testified in support of SB 347 and SB 700. Kitzhaber suggested that a prohibition on concealed carry in schools was a reasonable way to protect students, and the expansion of background check requirements was a sensible method to reduce illegal gun use and ensure firearms do not end up in the wrong hands. Additionally, the Governor stated that SB 700 would not limit the ability of law-abiding citizens to purchase firearms.
Greg Miller of Pac/West testified against all four bills on behalf of the Oregon Gun Owners, suggesting that the Committee was focusing on the wrong issues. Miller said that they should direct their efforts towards increasing funding and awareness for mental health and restricting the access that private citizens have to schools. Paul Phillips of Pac/West also testified to the committee, highlighting the immense economic benefits (including the $1.1 billion in total economic activity and the 7,046 total jobs) the firearms and ammunition industry provide in Oregon. Phillips acknowledged proposed amendments to SB 700 that would exempt firearms retailers from being compelled to conduct private background checks, but cautioned the committee that the bill only adds additional regulations for law-abiding gun owners.
Another hearing was held on April 18 in the Senate Judiciary Committee to hold a work session (i.e. vote) for the proposed regulations and send it to the Senate Floor. Initially, Chair Floyd Prozanski (D-South Lane and North Douglas Counties) had postponed a vote on gun control bills because Senate leadership did not believe they had the adequate votes to send the bill over to the House of Representatives. However, they believed that proposed amendments may help push the bill.
Before working the bills, the committee adopted several amendments:
• The (-9) amendments were adopted to SB 347, converting the measure from an “opt-out” to an “opt-in” policy for schools; meaning that concealed carry by concealed handgun license holders on school grounds is legal, unless the school district in question adopts a policy banning carry of firearms on school grounds.
• The (-6) amendments were adopted to SB 699, allowing active and retired police officers (whether on duty or off) to carry firearms in public buildings, including the Oregon State Capitol.
• The (-17) amendments were adopted to SB 700, providing exemptions from conducting background for transfers to a spouse, domestic partner, parent, grandparent, sibling, child, stepchild, or grandchild.
• The (-8) amendments were adopted to SB 796, requiring concealed handgun license applicants to participate in competency class taught by a live instructor (prohibiting applicants from fulfilling the requirement online).
These bills moved out of the Judiciary committee along party lines by a margin of 3-2 – Sens. Floyd Prozanski, Arnie Roblan (D-Coos Bay) and Sen. Jackie Dingfelder (D-Portland) voted “yes” while Sens. Jeff Kruse (R-Roseburg) and Vice-Chair Sen. Betsy Close (R-Albany) voted “no”. While the legislation moved out of committee passage out of the Senate was not a perfunctory process.
In early May, when the slate of gun control bills were positioned for a vote by the Senate Floor, Senate President Peter Courtney (D-Salem) sent them to the Senate Rules Committee in order for advocates to find a bi-partisan compromise to the issue, or in laymen’s terms find the votes to pass the bills. While there remained a sense throughout the final days of the session over whether they would reappear in the Senate Rules Committee, all of the gun control measures died for the time being when the Legislature declared adjournment sine die on July 8, 2013.
Other firearms-related measures
There were several other firearm-related measures introduced this session; however, most of them did not gain significant footing to move. Two that did, however, were SB 713 and House Joint Resolution (HJR) 16. SB 713, a bill proposed by the Oregon Association of Shooting Ranges, would permit shooting ranges to be located on specified exclusive farm use zones. It passed out of the Senate Judiciary Committee by a vote of 4-1. HJR 16 proposes a constitutional amendment in Oregon establishing the right to hunt, fish, trap and harvest wildlife. Although the bill was not passed by both chambers and is therefore dead, it did pass through the House Agriculture and Natural Resources Committee by a vote of 7-1. Unfortunately, the Speaker of the House and Senate President referred these measures to committees before they could be voted on by the body, effectively killing them.
While proponents of Second Amendment rights were successful in defeating burdensome firearm regulations this year, there remains potential for the momentum to carry over into the 35-day “short session” that will be held in February 2014. Sen. Ginny Burdick (D-Portland) was recently quoted saying, “Not being able to get a vote on either of those things was very disappointing,” referring to SB 347 and SB 700. “Universal background checks is definitely doable in the short session.” With Portland Democrats passionately pursuing greater firearm regulations, it is likely to see similar measures appear once the Legislature reconvenes early next year. It is important that we begin itemizing priorities and forming legislative concepts to ensure that the voice of the Oregon Gun Owners is heard in the decision making process.
Multnomah County tightens its gun control laws
April 25, 2013 – The Multnomah County Commissioners unanimously adopted a proposal to enact a gun control ordinance in the county. It is very similar to the ordinance that was adopted by the City of Portland in 2010. Multnomah County’s proposal was supported by County Sheriff Dan Staton, District Attorney Rod Underhill and several pediatricians.
Click here to read more.
Donate to the Oregon Gun Owners Legislative Fund
As the end of the Oregon Legislative Session nears, the potential still exists for state firearms legislation. Please support the Oregon Gun Owners in continuing the fight against burdensome regulations on law abiding gun owners in the state. Call 503-286-3206 to donate to the OGO legislative fund today!
Oregon Firearms Update – June 28, 2013
The appetite to address firearms issues seems to be picking up as we near the end of the session. Discussions regarding SB 700, related to background checks, was a non-starter this past month. However, as we are in the final days of the session, end game negotiations are bringing SB 700 back to life. While there are no defined plans to move the bill out of the Senate Rules committee, where it has been resting since it was moved off the Senate floor in April, Senate Democrats only need three votes from the five-member committee to move it to the floor. The background check bill is the only firearms bill that is being talked about in terms of moving legislation.
Even if the Senate moves the bill, three factors may keep it bottled up:
1) There are still not enough votes to move the bill out of the Senate.
2) The House has not committed to hearing any firearms bills passed out of the Senate.
3) We are in the final days of the session, so the time to move a policy bill as divisive as legislation pertaining to firearms is simply not there.
We continue to monitor this issue from inside of the Capitol and will report back if it looks like there will be movement on SB 700.