by Sen. Doug Whitsett
Once again, Oregon’s Democratic leadership is planning a further attack on our Second Amendment rights to own and bear firearms.
Legislative Concept 250 (LC 250) is scheduled to be introduced as a Judiciary Committee bill this week. It is nothing less than a major gun control act camouflaged as relating to mental health reporting. Moreover, as currently written, the proposal may violate other provisions of our Bill of Rights.
LC 250 would automatically prohibit the purchase of a firearm by any person who has been reported to the Oregon State Police (OSP) Firearms Unit as experiencing a mental health emergency and posing a danger to themselves or others with a firearm. The automatic prohibition would be in force for 30 days from the time the report is made.
The LC Draft requires the Firearm Unit to establish a telephone number or website where the report may be made.
Those authorized to make such a report to the Firearms Unit include physicians, health care providers, licensed mental health professionals, K-12 educators and principals, college and university administrators, professors and instructors or any member of the person’s immediate family.
OSP’s Firearms Unit would be prohibited from disclosing the identity of the reporter and the reporter would be immune from all civil liability as long as the report is made in good faith. Knowingly making a false report would be a Class A misdemeanor.
The firearm Unit is also prohibited from notifying the person that his or her ability to purchase a firearm is “on hold.” The only way for the person to discover he or she is prohibited from purchasing a firearm would be to attempt to purchase a firearm.
The LC Draft offers the person two methods of being granted relief from the firearm purchase prohibition.
Documentation from a health care provider may be obtained and offered as proof that the person is not a danger to themselves or others. The Firearms Unit is required to lift the firearm prohibition upon receipt to that documentation. The potential liability to the health care provider who makes such a determination is not addressed in the LC Draft.
Alternatively, the person may file a petition for relief from the firearm purchase prohibition in circuit court upon payment of the appropriate filing fee. A copy of that petition must also be served upon the Firearms Unit.
The Circuit Court must schedule a hearing for the petition within five judicial days. The person is required to prove to the court by clear and convincing evidence that he or she is not a danger to themselves or others. The judge will decide whether the relief from firearm prohibition shall be granted.
The LC Draft appears to be silent on how a second or subsequent report alleging danger to themselves or others would be processed. It appears that the same or another authorized reporter would be able to simply file another report with the Firearms Unit even if a medical care provider or a judge determined that a previous report was without merit.
LC 250 has an emergency clause that will prohibit any opportunity for it to be referred by the voters to decide.
Both our state and federal constitutions require the prosecution to prove guilt or culpability in a court of law before sanctions or reduction of rights may be carried. As it is currently written, this proposed bill appears to require a person accused of being a danger to themselves or others to prove they are not guilty. While that level of proof is not beyond reasonable doubt, the clear and convincing level of proof required is certainly more difficult to achieve than the preponderance of evidence required in most civil procedures.
Further, LC 250 appears to prohibit the person from access to virtually any remedy to the significant harm caused to them by the implementation of the proposed law. They would even be prohibited by the law from being allowed to face their accuser.
Oregonians’ Second Amendment rights were deliberately targeted during the 2015 session with the passage of Senate Bill 941. This was allegedly done, at least partially, at the behest of former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg and his affiliates after they provided some of the resources to fund anti-gun bills and their supporters’ campaigns.
All indications are that Oregon Democrats will continue to do the bidding of out-of-state billionaires, regardless of how it may infringe upon citizens’ Constitutional rights. Oregonians would be wise to oppose this proposal, and remember all of this come November.
Senator Doug Whitsett is the Republican state senator representing Senate District 28 – Klamath Falls