Oregon Democrats have lots of options ahead for gun regulation by Charles Yeganian

With Democratic Gov. Kate Brown on the record as making gun regulation a priority for her administration, and with a Democratic majority in the state legislature apparently ready to make that a reality, Oregon is set to compete with New York as the state to make the biggest advance this year when it comes to

The newly released Gun Law Scorecard from the Giffords Law Center gives Oregon a C+, ranking the state 14th. The group identifies a number of areas where Oregon can improve: safe storage laws, banning assault weapons, licensing for both firearms dealers and owners, waiting periods, and regulating ammunition sales being chief among them.

While it’s unlikely the state will accomplish all of this during this year’s session, legislation containing some of these improvements will likely get a hearing and a vote. Among the specific bills I’m tracking for LEAP Forward are:

HB 2551 is Gov. Brown’s assault weapons ban for citizens under the age of 21 that includes clear definitions of what legally constitutes an “assault weapon.” While it’s not the outright ban that Giffords (and I) would prefer, it is a step in the right direction and an improvement over current law.

SB 501 takes on ammunition regulation, limiting the amount one person can purchase in a 30 day period, and mandating gun locks and safes.

HB 2505 is a similar “safe storage” bill, but rather than a 30 day jail term for not using a gun lock (as prescribed in SB 501), violators will be fined $500. It’s companion legislation in the Senate is SB 275.

HB 2705 would allow Oregonians to opt in to a “do not sell” list, an important aspect of preventing people with mental health issues from obtaining weapons they often use to kill themselves or others. A person can remove themselves from the list, but only after a 21 day period has passed.

All of these bills (and others) are being tracked and graded on LEAP Forward’s report cards, and I’ll be updating the blog here as they are heard and voted on.

Oregon Safe Storage Bill Filed by Charles Yeganian

[Rep. Barbara] Smith Warner compares her safe storage bill to the campaign to make seatbelt use more commonplace.

“It takes kind of a public health approach,” explained Smith Warner. “You create an expectation, you do a broad public education campaign about it and you have that become the default activity.”

The new law would require all gun owners to secure their firearms when not in use. That means locking them up and keeping them out of the hands of people who are prohibited from owning guns like minors or felons. It also requires gun owners to report a stolen gun within 24 hours or face liability for any damages.

Safe storage and mandatory reporting hit close to home for many Oregon residents. In 2012, a man used a stolen AR-15 to kill two people and injure a third at the Clackamas Town Center, a shopping mall just outside of Portland, Oregon. The rifle wasn’t secured in the owner’s home and was never reported stolen.

LEAP Forward will be grading HB 2505 - sponsored by Rep. Warner and named after Cindy Yuille and Steven Forsythe, two victims of the Clackamas mall shooting - and scoring support for the bill.