By Natalie Roadarmel
Oregon Legislature recently passed a law which allows judges to enable law enforcement officials to confiscate guns from people who are deemed a threat to themselves or others. After an individual has been identified as a threat, they have 24 hours to turn in all guns. This law will be enacted in January 2018 with hopes of preventing potential suicides and mass shootings.
A group recently petitioned for this law to be overturned, arguing that the state government may abuse their power of gun ownership rights. However, the group only collected 25,000 signatures by the deadline, short of the 58,142 signatures required to put their measure on the January 2018 ballot. The group was originally given 90 days from July 7 to collect the signatures they needed, but they could not start until the bill was signed into law by Governor Brown on Aug. 15.
“It wasn’t for lack of support. We just simply did not have enough time,” commented Rep. Mike Nearman, one of the campaign’s sponsors.
Oregon currently has fairly loose regulations surrounding guns. Background checks are required, but there is no waiting period for the purchase of firearms. Open carry is allowed and permits are issued for concealed carry, although local authorities have little power in denying requests for concealed carry permits. Additionally, Oregon does not require guns to be stored safely, require gun owners to register their guns or limit the number of firearms that may be purchased at one time.
Gun regulation in Oregon last increased in 2015, when Governor Kate Brown required greater background checks after the Umpqua Community College shooting. Oregon has a history of shootings, and compared to states such as New York, it is incredibly easy and cheap to acquire a gun.
Furthermore, the discussion of gun control in Oregon goes past liberals and conservatives, but into rich and poor communities. The rural-urban divide in Oregon is mostly to blame for the split on feelings surrounding gun control. Many Oregonians, particularly those living in rural areas, are comfortable with owning guns. They purchase them for protection, personal hobbies and investment among other reasons. Oregon can easily be classified as a “gun state,” which deepens the emotions on both sides of gun control issues.
In the wake of shootings in the past few years as well as the recent mass shooting in Las Vegas, gun control has become a hot topic throughout Oregon as well and the United States as a whole. Gun control in Oregon is an especially hard topic to discuss due to popularity of guns for hunting and other activities. Although this new law is aimed at saving lives and creating a safer Oregon, it narrowly passed and the debate on whether this gives the state government too much power over Oregonian’s second amendment rights is still prevalent.