Gun control activists submitted the initial round of signatures Wednesday in support of two initiative petitions that would require registration of assault-style semi-automatic firearms, create a permit for purchasing guns and stop the sale of gun magazines that hold more than 10 rounds.
“This will be a bellwether for the nation, it’s one of the most comprehensive packages put together,” said Pastor Mark Knutson of the Augustana Lutheran Church in Portland.
Petitioners said they gathered 2,000 signatures each for IP 17 and IP 18 in about a week, and now the Secretary of State’s office has 10 days to verify that each has 1,000 valid signatures.
The campaigns will have to clear various legal and bureaucratic benchmarks if the initiatives are to make it to the ballot in November 2022, not the least of which is the gathering of 112,020 signatures by July 8, 2022.
Lift Every Voice Oregon is leading the effort. The faith-based coalition was also behind a trio of initiative petitions in the 2020 election cycle, one of which was approved to circulate in late April.
“We were moving forward actually really, really well. We had the ballot titles, we’d gone through the Supreme Court, we were ready to start collecting signatures, and then COVID hit,” said Rabbi Michael Cahana of Congregation Beth Israel.
The 2022 initiatives have much in common with their 2020 predecessors, but there are some changes.
IP 17 would require anyone interested in buying a gun to go through a permitting process beforehand. This process would include a background check as well as live-fire and classroom training.
The permit would be good for five years and would be renewable.
The petition would also ban the sale and manufacture of ammunition magazines that hold more than 10 rounds of ammunition, except to the military or law enforcement.
IP 18 would ban the manufacture, purchase, use and possession of assault-style firearms beyond its effective date, and require all firearms that qualify be registered within 180 days.
Any firearms already purchased and registered could still be legally used: on private property, for hunting, at shooting ranges, in competition and at educational exhibitions. Impermissible use would qualify as a Class A misdemeanor on first offense, with higher penalties possible for additional offenses.
The petition lists dozens of rifles that would be subjected to the new restrictions.
Semi-automatic shotguns and semi-automatic pistols also qualify as “assault-style” if they have any one of a number of augmentations or attachments.
For pistols, these include: a threaded barrel, capable of accepting a flash suppressor, forward handgrip or silencer; a second handgrip; or a stabilizing brace or any similar component.
“Whether there is a shooting or not, the fact that those guns can be displayed, are out and anybody can buy them, something is totally out of kilter with who we are as a society,” Knutson said.
Petitioners said that while they view the Legislature as an ally in their efforts to curb gun violence, the walkout threat by Republicans makes it very unlikely the ambitious proposals they want passed would receive a vote.
However, the Legislature did pass one gun control bill this session, which was signed into law by Gov. Kate Brown on Tuesday. The bill goes into effect 91 days after the legislative session ends in late June.
Senate Bill 554 bans guns from the Capitol, allows certain localities to pass policies banning guns from their premises and sets storage requirements.
Brown said on Twitter she signed the bill “with the hope that we can take another step forward to help spare more Oregon families from the grief of losing a loved one to gun violence.”