by Shelby Sebens, Northwest Watchdog
PORTLAND — It’s likely Oregonians will be able to grab their guns to ward off intruders or potential predators given the backlash that proposed strict gun-control legislation received recently.
Lawmakers pushing the bills that drew major protests and national attention, have backed away from the most extreme proposals, one of which included banning assault weapons and another requiring owners of assault weapons and high-capacity magazines to give them up.
“It’s not going forward,” a woman who answered state Rep. Mitch Greenlick’s Capitol phone said of HB 3200.
But some legislation is still alive.
The Senate is expected to consider some proposals early next week that would require live-fire exercises to get a concealed handgun license; universal background checks that the Oregon State Police will keep on file for five years; and a ban on concealed weapons in schools and the Capitol building.
As lawmakers across the nation debate gun control vs. gun rights in the wake of the mass shooting at a Connecticut school and a mall shooting in Oregon, some are asking about personal safety and self-defense.
Conservative activist James O’Keefe and his Project Veritas released his latest undercover video, “On Your Own” on Wednesday, asking New York-area police officers and others what citizens should do in that time between someone breaking into their home and police arriving.
State Rep. Jeff Barker, D-Aloha, is a retired police officer, and he knows exactly what he would do if someone broke into his home.
“… (W)hat I would do myself is quickly arm myself,” he said. “I would tell them I’m armed, I’m calling the police and get out of my house.”
Barker said Oregonians should be able to protect their families as they wait for police to arrive on scene.
“Especially if you live out a ways, I don’t know how long you’re going to wait,” he said. “Clearly you’re allowed to defend yourself in your home and your family. If you’re going to use a gun, you need to be prepared to use it.”
But he also said the best bet is to let the intruder know you’re armed and hopefully he or she leaves. He warned shooting someone, even someone breaking into your home, can cost you in legal fees.
Rachel Lucas, a sexual assault victim who founded Safer Oregon, a nonprofit focused on promoting self-protection options for victims, said she is hoping none of the proposed gun laws are considered.
“Emotions are so high and we’re not really thinking straight,” she said. “There’s just so many reasons not to rush through legislation of any kind without waiting until we’re calm and rational and coming from a good place on it.”
Lucas said that she felt small and vulnerable and unable to fully deal with the impact of a stranger violently assaulting her until she got her concealed handgun license.
“Guns are the great equalizer. And you feel that when you’ve learned to use a firearm,” she said. “You know in a core way that you suddenly have the power to protect yourself.”
Northwest Watchdog is a project of the Franklin Center for Government & Public Integrity