With mass shootings and other gun violence driving fears about public safety, voters in Oregon will have a chance in November to strengthen the state’s gun control laws.
Measure 114 would require anyone purchasing a gun to apply for a permit, complete a background check and pass a safety training course. The measure would also prohibit ammunition magazines capable of holding more than 10 rounds.
At 18, Oregonians are able to purchase a firearm after passing a criminal background check, but a federal loophole allows dealers to sell guns without a background check if it takes longer than three days. The measure would end the practice — known as the “Charleston loophole” after a mass shooting in South Carolina in 2015.
A survey by the Oregon Values and Beliefs Center found that 56% of people interviewed wanted stricter gun laws in Oregon. Among gun owners, nearly half — 44% — believed gun laws should be stricter in the state.
The biggest divide was along party lines: Ninety percent of Democrats wanted stronger federal gun laws, compared to 24% of Republicans. The online survey, conducted among 1,446 residents statewide from June 2 to June 11, had a margin of error of 2.5 percentage points.
The partisan split on gun control is reflected among the candidates for state House and Senate on the North Coast, where the Republicans stand against Measure 114, while the Democrats show qualified support.
Senate District 16
State Rep. Suzanne Weber, a Tillamook Republican who gave up her House seat to run for Senate, said she strongly opposes Measure 114.
“I stand with law-abiding gun owners and oppose these kinds of restrictions that will severely limit their right to own firearms,” she said in an email.
Weber predicted costly legal fallout if the measure is approved by voters.
“But Measure 114 is especially problematic because it is clearly unconstitutional and will only lead to long, costly court fights that leave the taxpayers stuck with paying the final bill,” she said.
Melissa Busch, a home health nurse from Warren, said she views Measure 114 as “a reasonable step addressing some common-sense safety concerns.”
The Democrat said she is “deeply concerned about what is really an epidemic of gun violence in our country,” adding that she recognizes regulation won’t entirely solve the problem.
Busch said that if the measure were to pass, she believes the state Legislature should step in and offer direct funding to counties “so that we can actually implement this in a way that isn’t a burden on law enforcement, or on counties’ and cities’ budgets.”
She said the measure can be a launching point for more conversation.
“Ultimately, I believe in the Second Amendment, I believe in our Constitution and I also believe that we all should have the freedom to feel safe and secure in our communities. So I think we can accomplish both of those things together if we’re willing to have conversation and meet each other in the middle,” Busch said.
House District 32
Cyrus Javadi, a dentist in Tillamook campaigning for state House, signaled his opposition to Measure 114.
“I oppose this effort to significantly restrict the rights of law-abiding gun owners,” the Republican said in an email.
Javadi expressed similar concerns as Weber about the potential for costly legal battles.
“This ill-conceived ballot measure will cost taxpayers significant money in court battles because it is unconstitutional and will go nowhere,” he said.
Logan Laity, a small-business owner and community organizer in Tillamook, said he agrees with the intent and basic concepts of Measure 114 but is “still evaluating the policy mechanism.”
Laity, a Democrat, called the magazine capacity on ammunition a “no-brainer” but said the limit should depend on the style of gun.
Laity described himself as a “responsible gun owner.”
“I really want to make sure that the people who are crafting these policies both have an understanding of these actual tools and weapons and can be able to legislate with a common-sense perspective, not beholden to any one extreme group, but actually looking out for the average gun owner, the average person sending their kids to school and making sure we can live in a safe community,” he said.
Laity also emphasized the importance of proper implementation if the measure were to pass.
“It’s about making sure that the people who are upholding the law and are outstanding citizens can continue to exercise their rights, while making sure we’re protecting all of our communities and protecting all of our rights,” he said. “That’s how I view this.”