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Interfaith leaders, youths to push for assault-rifle ban

SALEM — Religious leaders in Oregon intend to harness the youthful campaign for gun control to gather enough signatures to put a ban on assault rifles on the statewide ballot for the November election.

The campaign was being launched on Thursday at a church in Portland, marking the first ballot initiative by the interfaith group in Portland.

“Young people in this country are crying out,” said Pastor Mark Knutson of the Augustana Lutheran Church in Portland who will be one of the three chief petitioners.

He said he’s heard doubts that the effort to gather over 88,000 signatures by July 6 to put the measure on the ballot will succeed, but that he’s counting on young people to join the effort to get those signatures.

“This is going to be a youth campaign,” Knutson told The Associated Press in a phone interview.

The other chief petitioners are the Rev. Alcena Boozer, former principal of Jefferson High School and Pastor Emeritus of St. Philip the Deacon Episcopal Church; and Rabbi Michael Cahana of Congregation Beth Israel.

The measure would impose a ban on assault weapons and limit the number of bullets that firearms could carry in their magazines. Details are still being worked out, Knutson said.

He said gun owners, including hunters, are among those backing this initiative.