|More than a dozen
bills relating to firearms were introduced
during the recently concluded 77th Legislative Assembly.
Most of those bills would have, in some way, impinged
upon our second amendment right to own and bear
A few of the more aggressive bills included:
• House Bill 3200 that would have created the crime of
unlawful possession or transfer of an assault weapon or
large capacity magazine, punishable by up to 10 years in
prison, a fine of up to $250,000, or both.
Bill 3413 that would have created the crime of
endangering a minor, by allowing the minor access to a
fire arm, punishable by up to one year in prison, a fine
of up to $6,250, or both.
• SB 347 that would have allowed each school district
to establish their own rules regarding the right to
carry a licensed concealed weapon on school property.
Violation of the law would have constituted criminal
trespass, resulting in penalties of up to one year in
prison, a fine of up to $6,250, or both. This bill
would also have preempted the current law that only
allows the legislative body to create laws regulating
• SB 699 that would have restricted the right to
carry a concealed weapon in the capitol building by most
licensed people without the written permission of the
• SB 700 that would have required completion of a
background check, before any firearm could be
transferred between private parties. Failure to complete
the background check could have resulted in penalties up
to 5 years in prison, fines up to $125,000, or both.
• SB 758 that would have required the owner of a
firearm to carry specific liability insurance on each
firearm in their possession. It also made it a crime to
transfer a firearm to another person unless that
individual carried liability insurance on the weapon.
Failure to maintain liability insurance on each firearm
would have resulted in fines of up to $10,000 per
• SB 796 that would have required completion of a
concealed handgun course, including a live fire test,
before a concealed handgun license could be issued. It
is unclear why our legislature should focus its
attention on increasing the requirements to obtain a
concealed carry permit. It seems that no one can
remember the last time that an Oregon handgun licensee
committed a crime with a firearm.
Each of these bills, except HB 3413, had an emergency
clause attached. The only reason for the emergency
clause would have been to prevent the bill from being
referred to the people to decide.
None of these bills were enacted into Oregon law.
The primary reason that the bills did not pass was
because the Senate Leadership knew that the combined 15
no votes of 14 Senate Republicans, and of Senator Betsy
Johnson, would have defeated each of the bills on the
Senate floor. For that reason, they were never allowed
to come to the Senate floor for a vote.
From my perspective, that vote count is much too close
for comfort. Your Legislative Assembly was within one
vote of enacting each of those bills into Oregon law. It
was within one vote of grossly impinging on our second
Unfortunately, too many people are simply unaware of the
facts regarding the possession of guns, and the
commission of gun related crimes. In fact, most families
have been convinced by media reports that gun related
crimes are on the increase in America.
That simply is not true!
Over the past twenty years, the number of homicides
committed with a firearm in the United States has
decreased by nearly 40 percent. The number of other
crimes involving the use of a firearm has also
plummeted, declining by nearly 70 percent. Unintended
deaths by firearms have dropped by nearly 60 percent
since 1993, and have decreased by more than 80 percent
This dramatic decline in the number of crimes committed
with firearms has occurred during the same time period
when our national population has increased from 250
million to 315 million people.
During the same twenty years, more than 100 million guns
have been sold to private citizens in the United States.
Forty three percent of U.S homes now report that they
possess one or more firearms. I would imagine that the
gun owning percentage is actually much higher than
reported, because many people who own firearms do not
prefer to let anyone know that they have those weapons.
All indicators point to the fact that our society
becomes safer as more responsible families own guns.
Nonetheless, gun violence is the third most often
reported event by our news media. That rate of reporting
is only surpassed by news reports on traffic and the
weather. The media almost never reports the daily events
where violence is prevented by an armed citizen. It is
this constant media bias that is primarily responsible
for people believing that gun violence is on the
In my opinion, our most important right, as citizens of
the United States, is our constitutionally guaranteed
Second Amendment right to own and bear firearms.
Throughout recorded history, each and every would-be
dictator and despot has first convinced the people to
disarm, allegedly in order to make their society a safer
and more peaceful place to live. Once they have given up
their firearms they have been systematically stripped of
all other human rights.
We must not allow glib-speaking politicians, and a
complicit news media, to convince us that we are safer
without firearms. We are not safer. We are defenseless.
Please remember, if we do not stand up for rural Oregon
no one will.