Representative Thatcher: Update on gun owner’s rights

by Rep. Kim Thatcher (R-Keizer)

It’s nice to be able to report some good news once in a while. This month I want to share a recent Oregon court decision which could have a broader impact than just one situation.

A couple of years ago I learned about a young man who served his country in the Marines and was now going to college to get an education while caring for his grandmother. He was suspended from Western Oregon University for carrying a small pistol in his pocket even though he had a Concealed Handgun License (CHL). I believed the rules laid down by the Oregon University System (OUS) prohibiting CHL holders from packing on any of the state’s campuses were in direct violation of state law which said only the legislature can regulate firearms.

I joined several other legislators in trying to hold OUS accountable, but it took a lawsuit by the Oregon Firearms Educational Foundation to prove we were right. Last week the Oregon Court of Appeals said the OUS rules were “invalid”. The University System spent nearly $45,000 in legal costs defending these rules. This practice of overstepping their authority is one of the main reasons I voted against a new law giving OUS more independence and the legislature less oversight.

Constituents have complained about similar rules in other state agencies and signs posted near entrances to state office buildings telling visitors they may not carry firearms even with a CHL. I hope this new legal decision sends a strong message to state agencies warning them not to overstep their authority. And this whole experience makes me wonder — what other bureaucratic regulations are out there which conflict with the laws passed by the people you elect to represent you in the Legislature?

Some media outlets around Oregon wrote editorials arguing that college campuses should be gun-free zones. We’re talking about adults here. They are old enough to drive, vote and be drafted into the military, but somehow not mature enough to exercise their 2nd Amendment rights? And what makes a University any different than a mall or a public library? Does a person with a Concealed Handgun License turn into a mass murderer the minute they step onto University property? I saw a recent comment on a newspaper blog that added this important point: “When lawfully armed citizens are told they can’t carry somewhere, that will only stop the people who choose to respect and follow the law, not the criminals who choose to break it.”

Let me touch on a related topic dealing with background checks for firearms purchases. During this year’s legislative session I pushed a proposal to do away with the expensive program run by the Oregon State Police (OSP) and let the federal government conduct the background screening like they currently do for 33 other states. The feds would do the checks for no additional cost instead of the $10 fee OSP currently imposes on each and every gun purchase in Oregon. Gun dealers would not have to sit on hold on the phone for several minutes and in some cases several hours waiting to get a response from OSP staff.

I was not able to get that proposal approved, but OSP recently launched a new on-line system called the Firearms Instant Background Check System. Dealers can basically log on and enter the information about the purchases. This new system cost the agency $30,000 to implement and it appears to duplicate a similar internet program already used by the federal program. I have heard complaints from a few dealers about technical difficulties with the new OSP system, but they add it is much better than calling in every transaction.

I will continue to work on reforms in the legislature to help gun owners in Oregon. One of my priorities remains protecting the privacy of CHL holders by exempting their personal information from disclosure under state public records laws. Stay tuned for further developments – hopefully when the legislature reconvenes in February 2012.

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Posted by at 11:00 | Posted in 2nd Amendment | 6 Comments |Email This Post Email This Post |Print This Post Print This Post
  • Shootinblanks

    Guns kill. People should not have them. Look at England, where the streets are safe and nobody has a gun.
    We should be like they are. We came from there.
    I recently destroyed my only handgun, a 22 magnum.
    I feel better now.

    • If “guns kill” as you say, then pencils fail tests. You might think about that the next time you’re looking down the wrong end of somebody else’s barrel.

    • Bertatut

      Recent news re: England’s streets ain’t reachin’ you, Bro’! Wishin’ I had your 22 Magnum for protection against what’s ‘comin’ down the pike’! ‘Occupy Wall Street’ ain’t stoppin’ there…count on it! Would have started 11/4/2008 if BHO had lost! ‘Fraid it’s gonna get worse before it gets better!  

  • Anonymous

    I didn’t know that the military draft was on again.

  • Bertatut

    When Freedom is ignored, and we’ve no right to self-defense, and criminals can go ‘scot-free,’ it really makes no sense! When law-abiding citizens must register their arms, while guns in hands of criminals get by with no alarms. Instead of focusing their wrath on guns in lawful hands, why don’t Legislators target guns of lawless bands?
    The No. 2 in Bill of Rights, right after Speech that’s Free, is meant for self-protection in this Land of Liberty! When law-enforcement, spread so thin, can’t cover every base, we need our guns to self-protect, when criminals we face! And when we do, we need our rights protected by the law. When ‘right to crime’ takes precedent, there’s legal-system flaw!
    Seems criminals have ‘rights to practice crime’ without remorse, while citizens abide by law, and find they’ve no recourse. We’re on the verge of anarchy, and lawlessness will reign when ‘Rule of Law’ is overruled, as elitists make their claim! When jungle laws take over, then we’ll devour each other, forgetting that, in fact, we are a sister or a brother.
    (c) 5/31/2011 Roberta N. Tuthill (1923-) TX-born DAR. Dedicated to shop-keeper who defended self & co-workers. Share intact with credit line; req. perm. to print for sale. 

  • Rupert in Springfield

    $10 might not sound like a lot of money, but somehow it is when its a straight rip off like the current system. Thanks so much for trying to do away with this. This is one shining example of how government seems to be working against people rather than for them. Getting an extra $10 from people, for no reason whatsoever, just because they can.

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