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State ban on sale of assault weapons proposed

Rep. Peter Buckley says the killings of 26 people — including 20 young children — in Connecticut prompted a dozen state legislators to propose legislation that would ban the sale of assault weapons in Oregon.

"I think this is a tipping point — the shootings in Connecticut," said the Ashland Democrat. "I don't think that people can tolerate this situation any longer."

Buckley said the proposed Oregon ban proposed by the gun-control group, Ceasefire Oregon, would essentially mirror a national ban on assault-type weapons that expired in 2004.

The legislators are calling for the legislation in the wake of the Newton, Conn., massacre, in which a man armed with an assault rifle and two handguns shot and killed 26 people, including 20 children, at an elementary school.

The Connecticut shooting took place less than three days after a 22-year-old man opened fire in the Clackamas Town Center mall outside of Portland, killing two and seriously injuring a third.

Buckley said the nation has ratcheted up its obsession with guns and violence, and it is now time to reverse that trend. That, he said, would following the lead of other countries in the world that have clamped down on purchases of assault weapons.

"We have more guns in America per capita, and we have more mass murders per capita than any other nation," Buckley said.

Buckley would take a far different approach than Rep. Dennis Richardson, R-Central Point, who has urged school districts to consider training and arming individuals in each school to take on any would-be killer.

"When it does happen, there should be two or three people who are trained in the use of firearms," he said.

But Richardson said he would be willing to consider the legislation proposed by Buckley, though he ultimately might not endorse it.

"I think the assault weapons ban should be discussed," he said. "I owe it to our citizens to rationally look at every bill that comes across my desk."

Richardson said he wants to find a way to curb the violence in American schools as well.

"What we're doing in the past obviously isn't working," he said. "The violence in our society is only escalating."

Since the shootings, Richardson said, he's talked to retired educators in Southern Oregon who have confided to him that they had carried concealed weapons on campus to stop threats of violence.

While school districts forbid guns on campus, Richardson said more teachers and administrators probably carry concealed firearms than most people think.

While reports of increased gun sales have been reported elsewhere, an employee at the Blackbird Shopping Center said its gun shop has not seen an increase in firearm sales since the recent shootings. He did say sales increased following the Nov. 6 election. The employee declined to be identified.

Reach reporter Damian Mann at 541-776-4476, or email dmann@mailtribune.com.