by Sen. Doug Whitsett
Four gun control bills were introduced in the Senate Judiciary Committee during the 2013 Legislative session last spring. They were each introduced as committee bills so that no Senator could be assigned responsibility for bringing the bill forward. In fact, the legislative record shows that no Senator actually sponsored the anti-gun bills.
However, it was soon apparent to most legislators, and to the public, that the gun control bills were championed by Senator Ginny Burdick, a Democrat from Portland, and Senator Floyd Prozanski, a Democrat from Eugene. The public hearings were long and contentious. Three of the four bills were voted out of the Senate Judiciary Committee on party line votes with both Republican Senators on the committee voting no. The bills were referred to the Senate Rules Committee where they remained when the Legislature adjourned. My office received far more e-mails, letters and phone calls in opposition to those four bills than any other legislation during the past ten years.
The Second Amendment to the United States Constitution reads;
“A well-regulated militia being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed”.
Article I section 27 of the Oregon Constitution states:
“The people shall have the right to bear arms for the defense of themselves and the state, but the military shall be kept in strict subordination to the civil power”.
The language in both constitutions is unambiguous. Our citizens retain the constitutional right to keep and bear firearms. Each legislator swears or affirms to uphold all of the provisions of both the constitutions when they take office. In my opinion, each of those four 2013 gun-control bills violated the provisions of both the United States and the Oregon Constitution.
We worked hard throughout the 2013 session to keep the four bills from being enacted into Oregon law. All four bills “died in committee” because we formed a coalition of 15 Senators who pledged to vote no on each of the gun-control bills. The coalition was made-up of all 14 Republican Senators, with Senator Betsy Johnson making the crucial fifteenth “NO” vote,
Unfortunately, no “bad idea” is ever “dead” in Salem. It was announced last week that LC 154, “relating to firearms”, will be introduced in the Senate Judiciary Committee. That very broad limiting clause would allow virtually any additional provision relating to gun control to be amended into the bill. A preliminary hearing to introduce the proposed legislation as a committee bill is scheduled for Friday, January 17th at 2 p.m.
This year’s anti-gun bill appears to be once again championed by Senators Floyd Prozanski and Ginny Burdick. Senator Prozanski’s news release regarding the bill appears to suggest that this year Senate President Peter Courtney, another Democrat from Salem, may also be in favor of the bill.
The wording of the newest anti-gun legislation appears to parallel SB 700 from the 2013 session. It requires a person to request a criminal background check before transferring a firearm to any other person. It specifies exemptions to the background check requirement for family members, inherited firearms and antique firearms. The first failure to comply with the new law would be punishable by 30 day imprisonment, a fine of $1,250, or both. A second offense would result in one year imprisonment, a fine of $6,250, or both. Third and subsequent offenses would be punishable by a maximum term of five years in prison, a fine of $125,000, or both.
I remain strongly opposed to any and all laws that intrude, encroach or impact our constitutionally protected right to keep and bear firearms. We are already gearing-up to defeat this latest attempt to impinge on those critical constitutional rights.
Please help our efforts by speaking-out and taking action! Write letters to the editor. Express your opinion on radio talk-shows. Respectfully write, call, and e-mail the fifteen Democratic Senators who were expected to vote in support of gun-control legislation last year. That includes every Democratic Senator, except for Senator Betsy Johnson from Scappoose [Sen. Betsy Johnson is opposed to the gun-control legislation].
Last year, the people of Colorado did take action… but it was too late! Their Legislature had already passed gun-control legislation.
Please…… do not let that happen in Oregon!
Senator Doug Whitsett is the Republican state senator representing Senate District 28 – Klamath Falls