Oregon’s secretary of state says a coalition of anti-gun activists and organizations have collected enough signatures to place a gun control referendum on the ballot this November, and while there’s still a small chance that the ballot initiative could get scuttled before Election Day, gun owners in the state aren’t counting on that outcome. Instead, they’re sounding the alarm about what the initiative would mean for current and would-be gun owners in the hope of rallying enough opposition to defeat the measure at the ballot box.
Initiative Petition 17, deceptively named the “Reduction of Gun Violence Act” despite targeting legal gun owners and not violent criminals, would impose several new restrictions on the right to keep and bear arms, starting with a ban on the sale and purchase of ammunition magazines that can accept more than ten rounds. Unlike other recent magazine bans, the Oregon proposal grandfathers in existing owners but would still make it a crime for anyone to purchase, sell, or transfer a “large capacity” magazine once the law takes effect.
IP 17 would also impose a new “permit to purchase” requirement on all gun owners, subjecting them to a needless round of government investigation, background checks, training, and fees before being able to legally purchase a gun. Oregon already has so-called universal background checks, so before any firearm transfer can legally take place the purchaser must undergo a background check. Gun control activists want to duplicate that process by forcing all would-be buyers to get a permit beforehand; one that requires documentation of undergoing a state-approved firearms training course, another background check conducted through the NICS system, and the sign off from a county sheriff or local police chief, who will have the discretion to deny that permit if they believe the individual “poses a risk” to themselves or others (even if the applicant has never been charged or been accused of a crime).
Several Second Amendment organizations have put out statements pointing out the hidden consequences buried in the initiative’s fine print, with the Oregon Firearms Federation warning that the ballot measure, if approved, would allow for indefinite waiting periods for gun purchases.
As you know, Oregon already requires the permission of the Oregon State Police before a person can purchase a firearm. Firearms may not be purchased or transferred without approval of the State Police through the Oregon background check system.
Oregon State Police have no statutory time limit on how long they can take to conduct a background check. There are many cases of people waiting over 2 years for the completion of a check. Requests for information or corrections from OSP are routinely ignored.
While current law allows a transfer to take place after 3 business days if the OSP has not completed the check, in practice that virtually never happens because dealers fear retribution from the ATF. (This ballot measure removes even that one small and rarely used safeguard.)
NRA’s Institute for Legislative Action has also sent out an alert to members, noting that the measure also “creates a state registry of firearm owners and their sensitive personal information” just like the one in California that was recently leaked by the state Attorney General’s office.
There is a sliver of hope that the measure won’t appear before voters this fall. NRA-ILA says there is still a chance for gun owners to weigh in before the ballot initiative receives it’s final approval in early August.
The Explanatory Statement Committee (ESC) will draft the statement for the ballot. The title of the draft is “Reduction of Gun Violence Act.” Initiative 17 does nothing to reduce gun violence and blatantly disregards your constitutional rights.
Please tell your friends, family, and fellow sportsmen and women to vote NO on November 8, 2022.
On August 3, 2022, NRA members, Second Amendment advocates, and the public will have an opportunity to comment on, and challenge, the statement. Your NRA-ILA will update you with the language of the draft statement as it becomes available. It is critical that you provide comments on the draft statements identifying the unconstitutional infringements Initiative 17 will place on law-abiding firearm owners in Oregon.
We’ll be following up here as well when that information is released. If IP 17 does end up being approved by voters, its provisions are almost certainly going to be challenged in court soon after the votes are tallied, but it’s always better to defeat a bad bill (or in this case, a voter referendum) than to try to overturn a bad law. Now’s the time for Oregon gun owners to be heard, and to remind their friends and neighbors that while the state’s shocking rise in violent crime is real, it won’t be stopped by targeting legal gun owners and their constitutionally-protected right to keep and bear arms in self-defense.