This Friday, April 5th
at 8:30 A.M, the Senate Judiciary Committee will hold
public hearings on four bills relating to firearms. Many
citizens and legislators alike consider all four of
these measures to be both anti-gun and a challenge to
our Second Amendment rights.
Several anti-gun bills were
scheduled for a Friday hearing earlier in the session.
At that time, the Senate Democrat leadership proposed
that the Senate Rules be changed to prohibit open carry
of firearms in the Capitol. The Democrat leaders
withdrew that proposal when all fourteen Senate
Republicans unanimously opposed that change in Rules.
The initial anti-gun hearings were then postponed.
The Judiciary Committee
Chair is Senator Floyd Prozanski. He is a Democrat
representing much of the Eugene area. In his recent
posting of the four bills for hearings and possible work
sessions, he stated that “I intend to conduct a civil,
orderly and respectful hearing in accordance with the
Rules of the Senate”.
The first bill is SB 347
sponsored by Senator Ginny Burdick and ten other
Democrat legislators. This bill is Senator Burdick’s
perennial measure to allow each school district to
establish a written policy regarding the legal ability
for holders of concealed handgun licenses to carry a
concealed weapon on school grounds.
Oregon currently has a
preemption law that prohibits any government entity
other than the state legislature from enacting laws or
ordinances regarding firearms. Obviously, enacting this
law would negate that preemption law. It would authorize
nearly two hundred school districts to write their own
concealed carry restrictions. The certain outcome and,
in my opinion, the primary purpose of Senator Burdick’s
bill is the creation of a mosaic of anti-gun laws in
every district, village and town in Oregon.
SB 699 is sponsored by the
Committee on Judiciary. Sponsorship by the Committee
does imply that all members of that Committee support
The measure would prohibit
a person, who possesses a concealed handgun license,
from carrying a firearm in the Capitol building, without
the written permission of the Legislative Administrator.
The disarming of state legislators and their staffs is
the last thing that I wish to see. In my opinion, gun
free areas might as well be advertised as potential
SB 700 is also sponsored by
the Committee on Judiciary. This bill requires a person
to request a criminal background check before
transferring a firearm to any other individual outside
of the person’s immediate family.
As you may know, the
transfer of firearms between private citizens who are
not in the business of trading firearms does not require
any form of background verification. This bill creates a
penalty for failure to request a criminal background
check starting at up to 30 days imprisonment and a fine
of $1,250. The penalty progresses to a felony crime with
up to five years in prison and a fine of $125,000.
SB 796 is sponsored by
Senator Floyd Prozanski. His bill would require any
person applying for a concealed handgun license to
first-pass a live-fire test at a firing range. The test
would require accuracy while repeatedly firing up to
twenty shots in 60 seconds or less.
This would certainly be
difficult to achieve using a handgun, such as a
revolver, that only holds six rounds of ammunition. One
would have to reload the weapon three times in order to
fire twenty rounds in a minute or less.
This rule would appear to
require the use of a semi-automatic weapon, with a large
capacity magazine, to complete the test. This might make
it virtually impossible to obtain an Oregon concealed
handgun license in the event that the possession of
semi-automatic weapons with large capacity magazines
Each of the four bills has
one or more amendments. It appears Senator Prozanski may
plan to adopt those amendments, even though none of the
bills have had a previous public hearing. This is, in of
itself, is an unusual way to hold an “open and
transparent” public hearing. A cynical mind might
conclude that the outcome of these hearings has been
It should be noted that all
four bills carry an emergency clause. The emergency
clauses have the purpose of prohibiting the people of
Oregon from exercising their constitutional right to
gather signatures and to refer the bills to the people
I recently introduced
Senate Joint Resolution 35 that would greatly restrict
the use of emergency clauses. The resolution would refer
a constitutional amendment to the people requiring a two
thirds majority vote of both legislative chambers in
order to attach an emergency clause to any bill.
The resolution has been
referred to the Senate Rules Committee chaired by
Senator Diane Rosenbaum. I doubt that the resolution
receives the courtesy of a hearing; however, I do
believe that it is past time to start the dialogue
regarding the preservation of our constitutional right
to refer legislative acts to the people to decide.
It should also be noted
that both SB 699, relating to weapons, and SB 700
relating to firearms, could be used for a vehicle to
include all four bills in a single legislative act. It
should further be noted that either of those relating
clauses would allow virtually any provision relating to
weapons to be amended into the bill.
Finally, Senator Jackie
Dingfelder, who is a member of the Senate Judiciary
Committee, is the sole sponsor of SB 760. Her bill would
essentially require a person to turn and run away when
confronted with physical force rather than to stand
their ground. I have obtained one legal opinion
suggesting that the language of the bill would even
require a person to leave their own home when confronted
with physical force rather than to defend their own
I strongly oppose any
infringement on our Second Amendment right for private
citizens to own and bear arms. I believe that all four
of these bills are both unnecessary and
I will do everything within
my power to keep them from being enacted into Oregon
Please remember, if we do
not stand up for rural Oregon no one will.