by Sen. Jeff Kruse (R-Roseburg)
A few weeks ago the House passed three gun bills. House Bill 2797 defined the ability to carry a gun on an ATV or motorcycle and passed the House 58 to 0. House Bill 2787 prohibits agencies from disclosing information about concealed carry permit holders and passed the House 42 to 18. House bill 2792 would have allowed permit holders from other states to legally carry in Oregon and Oregon residents to legally carry in other states (reciprocity) and passed the House 40 to 17. Three well thought out bills, fully debated and passed with large majority (bipartisan) votes.
At this point the story turns bad, as these bills now had to go before the Senate Judiciary Committee. It is well known that Floyd Prozanski (who chairs the committee) and several others in the Senate Democrat Caucus, are very much anti-gun people. They may attempt to deny it, but their voting record over the years is very clear.
Several weeks ago Senator Prozanski scheduled hearings on all three bills. The House members who sponsored the bills came in and testified for about fifteen minutes on the bills and made a very good case for passing the bills without amendments. The next two hours were spent on testimony from people like State Superintendent Castillo talking about violence in schools and referring to an amendment to one of the bills. I asked the Chair if there was such an amendment and he said “no, it was just a concept”. At that point I suggested the testimony was out of order because it didn’t pertain to the subject of any of the bills, but was ignored.
I should take a break from the narrative at this juncture to point out that in the history of gun violence in schools in the United States there has never been an incident involving anyone with a concealed carry permit. In the two hours of testimony we heard about the violence in Portland, not one of the incidences referenced involved a person with a legal permit and none of the cases noted took place on school grounds. When I suggested to those testifying that maybe their focus should be on criminals and not law abiding citizens my suggestion was rather rudely rejected.
Now fast forward to this week and the Wednesday hearing on House Bill 2797 (the one that passed the House unanimously). Senator Prozanski had already decided to kill the other two bills and include the confidentiality provisions of HB 2787 into HB 2797. The problem came when he also chose to put in a provision making it a C felony for someone with a legal carry permit to have a gun in their possession on school grounds. I suggested to Senator Prozanski that he should put his concept in a separate bill and not mess with the three very good bills the House sent us. His response was, in essence, he could do whatever he wanted, which was true because he had the support on the committee of Senators Bonamici and Dingfelder.
At the end of the day Senator Prozanski has found a way to kill all three gun bills, because he knows the House will not agree with his amendments. Senator Whitsett and I voted no on the amended bill and served notice of a minority report. This will allow us to bring a good gun bill to the floor of the Senate. I truly believe our bill will be one that could easily pass, but will fail because Senate Democrats never go against their leadership.
The anti-gun minority will have won again. They continue to make it harder for people who obey the law and ignore dealing with the actual criminal element responsible for the violence. Please pay attention to the vote on the minority report on HB 2797 as well as the vote on the actual bill. The bill itself with the Prozanski amendment is a Constitutional violation and should be noted.