By State Representative Rob Nosse
Just before I left for vacation and while I was away, we had two more horrifying mass shooting tragedies, one in Buffalo, NY, and one in Uvalde, TX. This is one of our nation’s most serious issues. No other industrialized nation has the kind of gun violence problems that the US has. This just seems to keep happening.
I have been trying to come up with a more hopeful way to talk about this issue in our state and country. So many people are moved to do something and I am told sensible safety regulation is popular in polls, yet we struggle as a country to get this problem under control because of the partisan politics that exists around this issue. Meanwhile, we have elevated the second amendment of the Constitution to something I think our country’s founders would not recognize. The recent US Supreme Court decision overturning a concealed handguns law in NY is a big step backward.
At times, given what I know about the politics of gun regulation in the US, it feels very hopeless. But it actually isn’t. Things can be done and are getting done. Here in Oregon during every term in the legislature I have served, we have taken up changes in the law to improve safety. I am proud that in every legislative session I have served since 2015 we have passed bills to improve gun safety. That includes recent sessions.
Keeping Guns Out of the Hands of Domestic Abusers is an Oregon law in coordination with the Violence Against Women Act at the federal level to keep firearms away from domestic abusers.
Expanding Criminal Background Checks for Private Gun Sales without a criminal background check this law has closed opportunities for violent criminals and domestic abusers to purchase firearms.
Extreme Risk Protection Order allows both loved ones and doctors to petition a court for an extreme risk protection order to prevent suicides and shootings.
Gun Violence Prevention protects any domestic violence survivor by preventing people convicted of stalking, domestic violence, under restraining orders, etc. from purchasing firearms.
Firearm Removal for Stalkers and Domestic Abusers closed the restraining order loophole ensuring protocols in which courts and law enforcement can ensure that anyone convicted of domestic violence, stalking or who has a restraining order cannot possess firearms.
Gun Storage and Safety in Public Places ensured that the boards of public universities, community colleges and school districts can prohibit concealed carry of firearms on campus; it also requires guns to be stored safely.
But of course, there is still more work to be done. More to come, or as I like to say “stay tuned.”
Meanwhile, I hope many of you are also following the news out of Washington, DC. A bipartisan group of Senators has pushed forward national gun safety/restriction legislation. If adopted by the House of Representatives and signed by President Joe Biden, it will be the most significant piece of gun legislation produced by Congress in three decades.
The bill creates an enhanced process for purchasers under the age of 21; includes a background check for purchasers; closes the boyfriend loophole at the federal level and prohibits anyone who has ever been convicted of abuse from purchasing a gun; cracks down on gun trafficking and straw purchases; lets states create ‘red flags’ laws allowing weapons to be temporarily taken away from people who show risks of violence; and finally, it will allow schools to beef up security and mental health care programs. Many of these concepts are similar to things we have done here in Oregon.
The agreement had the support of 10 Republican Senators who joined the 50 members of the Democratic majority, giving the bill the ability to overcome a filibuster. My guess is that by the time you read this, it will have passed in the US House of Representatives, as Congress will recess for July 4th. It’s significant that the federal government took action to protect the entire country, not leaving this issue up to the states.
Here in Oregon, there are two petitions focused on the rising gun violence in our community. They are being brought forward by Lift Every Voice Oregon. If they gather enough signatures, they will appear on the ballot in this November’s election.
IP17 would require a “permit-to-purchase” to buy a gun. Such a permit requires a completed background check. IP17 would also limit the size of ammunition magazines to 10 rounds. Nine states and D.C. have similar laws enacted.
We should know sometime this summer if these efforts collected enough signatures to make in onto the ballot. Meanwhile, let’s watch and ponder how gun politics might play out in November elections, both nationally and here in Oregon. More on that another time.