Democrats are growing increasingly nervous about their prospects in the 2022 midterms, but activists in Oregon are hoping to juice turnout on the Left by placing a pair of gun control measures on the ballot. A group called Lift Every Voice Oregon is set to turn in several thousand signatures to the Oregon Secretary of State’s office this week, which they’re hoping will be the first step towards putting a ban on so-called assault weapons and high-capacity magazines before voters next November.
IP 17 would ban the sale of large capacity magazines and require a permit to purchase any gun, along with a completed background check and training before a gun is purchased. The other initiative – IP 18 – would ban the sale of assault-style weapons in Oregon. Those already legally owned before the act takes effect would need to be registered.
These are weapons that leaders of the initiatives say aren’t needed on the streets.
“There are not weapons to protect oneself, these are not weapons for hunting, these are weapons designed and used to kill as many human beings as possible in as short as time as possible,” said Michael Cahana, Senior Rabbi at Congregation Beth Israel.
That’s an interesting way of describing the most popular rifle in the United States. There are more than 20-million AR-15s and other modern sporting rifles that are lawfully possessed by American gun owners, and contrary to Cahana’s claims, these guns aren’t used in a lot of crimes. In fact, the FBI’s Uniform Crime Reports that are issued every year regularly find that twice as many Americans are killed by fists and feet than by a rifle of any kind.
Beyond the gun and magazine ban, which would impact hundreds of thousands of Oregon gun owners, the faith-based gun control activists are also hoping to mandate that every prospective gun owner first go through a training course before they’re able to legally exercise their right to keep and bear arms.
I can’t help but wonder what Rabbi Cahana would think about a state-mandated training course for clergy before they could preach from the pulpit? After all, the Left believes that words are violence too, so why wouldn’t we want to ensure that religious leaders have some “speech safety” training before they’re able to legally deliver a sermon?
If Lift Every Voice Oregon is able to collect 100,000 signatures over the next few months, their two anti-gun proposals will likely end up on the ballot in 2022. Whether or not the group can actually meet that goal is an open question, however. The organization actually tried to put a gun ban on the ballot in 2018, but failed to get the required number of signatures. In 2020, Lift Every Voice Oregon tried again, but abandoned their effort in the wake of the COVID-19 lockdowns that made collecting signatures a challenge.
Even if the anti-gun group is successful at putting their bans before voters next year, it might not be the boon to turnout that Democrats are hoping for. Oregon’s 4th and 5th Congressional Districts are closely divided between Republican and Democratic voters, though both are represented by Democrats at the moment. If a gun ban is on the ballot in 2022, it could end up increasing Democratic turnout in deep-blue districts around Portland, but also lead to more Republican voters showing up at the polls in the suburban and rural parts of the state. Would Democrats view it as a success if they managed to pass their gun control referendums, but ended up losing two seats in the House of Representatives in the process?