Current Weather
The Spy FM

Oregon Weighs Own Gun Measures After Mall Shooting, Newtown

Filed by KOSU News in US News.
April 4, 2013

Oregon state lawmakers have scheduled a marathon public hearing Friday on four gun control bills. The proposals include a ban on guns in schools and criminal background checks for private gun sales.

Opponents are lining up against the measures, but some gun control advocates say the proposals don’t go far enough.

Just days before the massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut last December, Oregon had a high-profile shooting of its own. A gunman opened fire in a crowded shopping mall in a Portland suburb, killing two and injuring one before turning the gun on himself.

In the wake of the twin tragedies, some Oregon lawmakers proposed a slate of gun bills. And that led to public rallies at the Oregon Capitol this year.

One February rally drew more than a thousand people — including Virgil Negru. Afterward, Negru toured the Capitol building with a hunting rifle slung over his shoulder and a handgun at his side.

“I like firearms, and I don’t think they should be used to kill people like lately [has been] happening, but we do have the right to bear arms,” he said.

It’s perfectly legal to openly carry a gun in the state Capitol in Oregon if you have a concealed handgun license. But while no incidents were reported, the sight of people walking the marble hallways with semi-automatic weapons rattled some lawmakers.

That led to a proposed ban on openly carrying weapons in the state Capitol. The other measures would ban guns from school grounds; require more training for people who want a concealed carry permit; and require criminal background checks for private gun sales.

Too Much Or Too Little?

“Obviously, I’d like us to be bolder,” says Democratic state Sen. Ginny Burdick, a longtime advocate of stricter gun laws. She hoped the December shootings would finally galvanize public opinion in favor of banning high-powered rifles and large-capacity magazines.

“Of course I would prefer to ban them in Oregon,” she says, “because I think we need to take a stand that the kinds of mass shootings we’ve been seeing and the weapons of war on our street are unacceptable.”

But Kevin Starrett, head of the Oregon Firearms Federation, says the gun control proposals are “desperate attempts to do something while not actually addressing any real problem.”

Starrett’s group calls itself “Oregon’s only no compromise gun lobby” and has been able defeat gun control bills in the past. Starrett says the proposed measures are an attempt to exploit the shopping mall and elementary school shootings.

“People who commit crimes with guns are not going to subject themselves to the background check,” he says. “So who is it having any impact on? It’s having an impact on the people who are willing to obey the law — who wouldn’t do anything bad in the first place.”

A State Solution?

The Oregon lawmaker who scheduled Friday’s hearing is Democratic Sen. Floyd Prozanski, chairman of the Judiciary Committee. He says he wouldn’t mind even stricter gun laws. But he thinks those laws would be better addressed by federal legislation.

“I don’t find at this point where a state is going to be able to insulate itself away from the troubles and the harms when you can actually go to an adjacent state and buy the same equipment,” Prozanski says.

The Oregon hearing comes just days after lawmakers in Connecticut passed a strict new gun law, reacting to the Newtown shootings.

After Friday’s Oregon hearing, the Judiciary Committee will vote next week. If the measures pass, they could reach both the state House and the Senate by the end of month. [Copyright 2013 NWNews]

Leave a Reply

6AM to 7AM On Being

On Being

On Being engages listeners across the spectrum of belief and non-belief in conversation about life's deepest questions. From autism to the ethics of torture, Krista and her guests reach beyond the headlines to probe faith and meaning, ethics and new ways of being, amidst the political, ecological, economic, cultural and technological shifts that define 21st century life.

Listen Live Now!

8AM to 10AM Weekend Edition

Weekend Edition

Weekend Edition Sunday premiered on January 18, 1987, and was the last of NPR's major newsmagazines to hit air. Since then, Weekend Edition Sunday has covered newsmakers and artists, scientists and politicans, music makers of all kinds, writers, thinkers, theologians and all manner of news events.

View the program guide!

9AM to 10PM Sound Opinions

Sound Opinions

Take two nationally respected rock critics, the latest music news, personal commentary, and exclusive interviews and performances, add a huge pile of records old and new, and the result is Sound Opinions-the world's only rock and roll talk show.

View the program guide!

Upcoming Events in your area (Submit your event today!)

Streaming audio and podcasts

Stream KOSU on your smartphone

Phone Streaming

SmartPhone listening options on this page are intended for many iPhones, Blackberries, etc. with low-cost software applications available to listen to our full-time web streams, both News on KOSU-1 and Classical on KOSU-2.

Learn more about our complete range of streaming services

We're perfecting the patient experience - Stillwater Medical Center