Oregon Republican Could Be Recalled Over Gun Control Bill

Photo Courtesy of the National Shooting Sports Foundation

When Oregon lawmakers approved a gun control bill earlier this year mandating storage requirements for firearms, banning guns from the state capitol, and allowing schools and universities in the state to adopt their own gun bans, State Sen. Lynn Findley was one of several Republicans who spoke out and voted against the bill. However, Findley now faces the prospect of being recalled; not because of his vote, but because he showed up for the legislative session.

Earlier this week, a Mount Vernon veteran named Patrick Kopke-Hales initiated a petition process that, if successful, could force a recall election against state Sen. Lynn Findley, R-Vale.

“Senator Findley’s actions, or inaction, go against the values and principles of the constituents he represents, the oath in which he swore upon, and the Republican Party values, beliefs and principles,” Kopke-Hales wrote on his prospective petition.

Kopke-Hales has two reasons for wanting Findley ousted, he told OPB.

Findley was one of six Republicans to attend a March 25 floor session, granting quorum to supermajority Democrats against the wishes of many gun rights supporters. Though Findley spoke forcefully against Senate Bill 554 that day, Democrats handily passed the proposal to create new gun storage laws, ban guns in the Capitol and Portland International Airport, and allow Oregon schools and universities to implement their own bans.

“SB 554 is the worst bill I’ve ever read in my life,” Kopke-Hales said Thursday. “We wanted them to deny quorum on this bill.”

Kopke-Halas is also angry at Findley for supporting a bill that didn’t survive the legislative session but still roused the ire of many conservatives in the state. SB 865 would have made it illegal to hold a state-level elected office while also serving on the central committee of an Oregon political party, a move that was aimed directly at two Republican state senators who also serve on the central committee of the Oregon Republican Party. Findley was a sponsor of the legislation, and Kopke-Harris calls that bill the “icing on the cake” that led him to start a recall petition drive.

Findley isn’t the only Republican facing a potential recall for not walking out on the legislative session where Democrats approved their gun control bill. Senate Minority Leader Fred Girod is also the subject of a recall drive, and organizers of the recall effort have until July 6th to get nearly 9,000 signatures from voters in Girod’s district before a recall election can take place.

Ordinarily, showing up for work wouldn’t be much of a reason to oust a sitting state senator, but several walkouts have  taken place over the past few years in Oregon, because it’s basically the only way that Republicans can block Democrat proposals. The tactic is still used fairly sparingly, however, and many conservatives like Kopke-Harris felt that the gun control bill that was ultimately approved does so much damage to the Second Amendment that Republicans should have simply stayed home that day instead of allowing the bill to be approved on party lines.

We’ll see how much energy these recall drives have in just a few weeks, but even if they’re successful gun owners face a more existential problem than whether or not GOP legislators should be walking out of the state capitol more frequently. Oregon was once a reliably Republican state, but with almost half of the state’s population now centered around the People’s Republic of Portland, Democrats dominate state government, and that’s unlikely to change in the short term.

If I were running a 2A group in Oregon, I’d not only be working to elect pro-gun Republicans, but I’d be spending time and energy talking to Democrats about why their support for gun control is fundamentally at odds with their efforts to “reimagine policing” and end mass incarceration. Democrats in Nevada rejected a gun control bill over fears of racial profiling earlier this year, and with some effort Second Amendment advocates might be able to persuade anti-gun lawmakers in Oregon to at least consider the unintended consequences of their own gun control bills in the future.