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VFW concerns: Proposed gun law fails to exclude antique weapons

  •  H&N

I am writing on behalf of myself and my fellow service men and women.

There may be an unintended consequence of SB 978-5 if passed. Most of the VFW and American Legion post’s throughout the state have in their armories Pre-1968 rifles such as the 1903 Springfield. Because these rifles are bolt action, they are still fully functional and can fire live ammo, (we don’t). However, we do use blanks for our honor guard functions.

If SB 978-5 passes there is a section that would make it a felony to posses a pre-1968 rifle — Section 17 (1) (b) & Section 17 (2) will criminalize possession of nearly all pre-1968 firearms manufactured in U.S., nearly all firearms imported in to U.S. prior to 1968 and nearly all home built firearms made with unserialized receivers or frames regardless of date.

SB 978-5 does not offer any grandfathering clause for these groups of firearms. That will result in hundreds of thousands of currently owned firearms becoming illegal with passage of the bill as currently written.

“Untraceable firearm” means a firearm other than an antique firearm for which the sale or distribution chain, from a licensed retailer to the point of first retail sale, cannot be traced by a law enforcement agency by means of a serial number affixed to the firearm by a federally licensed manufacturer or importer ...

SB 978-5 requires that nearly all firearms in Oregon have a serial number that was done by the licensed manufacture of the firearm.

Although many older firearms have serial numbers, many won’t be legal under SB 978-5 law. Pre-1968 U.S. made and imported firearms will not have serial numbers done in accordance with the federal regulations.

I am not sure how many other veterans groups have thought about this, nor do I know if the legislature has taken this into account. Since our rifles were issued to us on a temp/forever loan by the U.S. Army and are still U.S. government property it might cause some conflict were this bill to pass and the rifles to be confiscated by the state!

The 1903 Springfield rifles that are in the possession of most of these veterans organizations started out as issue weapons to World War I soldiers. Many of these rifles have been sent back to an arsenal to be rebuilt, re-barreled or have many new parts installed between seeing duty in combat.

None of these 1903 Springfield rifles was originally sold through a licensed dealer, they would under SB 978-5 be considered an “untraceable firearm.”

Upon passage of SB 978-5, most commanders of veterans service groups such as the VFW and American Legion would immediately become felons due to the fact that they are the ones who have custodianship of these rifles. Now, whether the state police would pursue these “crimes” would remain to be seen.

Our veterans would also no longer be afforded a true military funeral, where a 21-gun salute is our nation’s final farewell to an honored son or daughter. To intentionally take this away from the families of our brave veterans is unconscionable.

In closing, I ask for your help in stopping this unconstitutional bill that discriminates against Oregon’s veterans.

— Lawrence Cottingham is a SFC U.S. Army retired veteran, VFW and American Legion member.



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