Gun control advocates rally at Oregon Capitol

Anti-control protesters also rally in Salem on Thursday

SALEM — About 150 gun-control advocates rallied Thursday on the steps of the state Capitol, a day before lawmakers plan to hear public testimony on measures that would impose new restrictions on carrying and selling firearms.

"I am angry at people who think there should be no limits on gun ownership," said Vaune Albanese, whose brother was killed last May in a coffeehouse shooting in Seattle.

"Can you wrap your mind around the possibility that someone you love may die a gun-related death?" she asked the crowd. "Before May 30 of last year, I certainly couldn't."

Albanese was among those who urged lawmakers to pass a package of gun control measures introduced in the Senate last week.

The four bills would require background checks on private sales at gun shows, and a shooting test to obtain a concealed-handgun license. In addition, restrictions would be imposed on carrying guns in elementary and secondary schools, as well as in public buildings.

Oregon lawmakers have abandoned proposed legislation that would have banned military-style rifles and large-capacity ammunition magazines.

In the crowd Thursday listening to speakers was Paul Kemp of Portland, whose brother-in-law, Steve Forsyth, was one of two people shot dead at Clackamas Town Center in December 2012.

Kemp said he is disappointed the proposed gun bills package doesn't include a ban on military-style weapons such as the AR-15 that killed his brother-in-law. "The fact that they were gunned down in a public place," Kemp said, shaking his head. "Obviously, we have a problem."

Lawmakers in Connecticut passed a law Thursday with sweeping new restrictions on weapons and large-capacity ammunition magazines similar to the kind a gunman used to kill 26 people at Sandy Hook Elementary School in December.

"We should be a leader, just like Connecticut, on this issue," Sen. Jackie Dingfelder, a Portland Democrat, told the crowd at the Capitol. "And if we don't, the next time a tragedy like Clackamas Town Center occurs we will have nobody to blame but ourselves."

A smaller crowd of gun rights activists also showed up at the rally to protest the proposed legislation.

Anthony Duncan, founder of Salem Civil Defense Corps, said he opposes all gun control measures and believes imposing restrictions on firearms will lead to a police state. "It's not about safety," Duncan said on Thursday. "It's about systems and controls, and balances and checks on something that's a right."

The state Senate Judiciary Committee has scheduled an extended public hearing today for Senate Bills 347, 699, 700 and 796.

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