Governor pushing for reform
PORTLAND — In the wake of recent mass shootings, Gov. Kate Brown says it's time for Congress and the Oregon Statehouse to end the partisan gridlocks on gun reform and strengthen state and federal laws on assault weapons, background checks and illegal firearm purchases, among others.
Brown's calls on policymakers are part of a series of new gun-related efforts in Oregon she revealed Friday in Portland, alongside Democrats Sen. Ron Wyden and Rep. Suzanne Bonamici plus several local gun-control advocates and religious leaders.
The Democratic governor said state lawmakers "must" pass new laws during next year's session that would close several loopholes. She wants to make sure people who shouldn't own a gun aren't able to buy one because authorities weren't able to complete a background check in a certain amount of time. Brown also wants to broaden the scope of illegal possession for those involved in stalking or domestic violence cases.
Additionally, Brown urged Congress to outlaw assault rifles and called for a statewide ban on future purchases of extended-capacity magazines, referencing the nation's deadliest-ever mass shooting last month at a gay Orlando nightclub that killed 49 people and wounded more than 50 others.
"Those magazines allowed him to fire his weapon repeatedly without stopping to reload, without pause that might have given his victims or law enforcement a chance to stop him," Brown said.
Bonamici made similar calls on her congressional colleagues, such as streamlined federal mandates on background checks. She said she was disappointed that Congress recessed this week without addressing gun reform yet again, and their "thoughts and prayers of silences are not enough."
Other actions by Brown, who's running to keep her gubernatorial seat in November, include executive orders on Oregon State Police to keep a five-year record of state firearm transactions, which state law already authorizes. State police would also be ordered to proactively notify local authorities when a prohibited person attempts to buy a gun.
Kevin Starrett, executive director of the Oregon Firearms Federation gun-rights group, responded with some terse words for Brown's characterization of the Orlando shooting.
"That guy was in the building for three hours — does she think he never reloaded in three hours?" Starrett told The Associated Press. "It's just incredibly ignorant, stupid garbage that comes out of these people's mouths. The reason those people died was because they weren't prepared to protect themselves."
Starrett also criticized Brown's orders on state police. He noted the agency already dispatches troopers to the scene when a prohibited person tries buying a gun, a policy change that former Gov. John Kitzhaber called for two years ago in the absence of such requirement by state law.
"This is her great breakthrough? That the cops are actually going to talk to each other?" Starrett said. "This is embarrassing. It really is."
Republican lawmakers in the Oregon House, on the other hand, said they're cautiously open to having dialogues on gun violence, so long as the rights of responsible Oregonian gun owners are taken into full account.
"Sadly, this element of the conversation is all too often an afterthought for politicians in Salem," Rep. Mike McLane, the chamber's minority leader, said in a statement. "We can and, indeed should, do more to address violence in our communities, but I firmly believe that these solutions should be borne out of bipartisan consensus and honest efforts to find common ground that works."