Students lobby for bill that would require permit to buy guns, other restrictions
Around 40 students traveled to Salem from the Portland area Monday to say they want to feel safer in their classrooms. They're lobbying for a new bill that would require a permit to buy guns and put other restrictions in place.
The measure, Oregon Senate Bill 501, would also require a criminal background check to buy ammunition and says you could only buy or receive 20 rounds within a 30-day period.
A co-owner of a gun store in Salem called the bill "ridiculous."
The FBI says from 2001 to 2017 nearly 800 people died in active shooter incidents.
On Feb. 14, 2018, authorities said 19-year-old Nikolas Cruz killed 17 people inside a high school in Parkland, Florida. Investigators said Cruz bought the AR-15 rifle he used legally.
"I want to feel safe at school. I want to be able to live like a normal teenager," Nabila, a Portland area high school student who lobbied lawmakers in Salem Monday, told KATU.
She and other students who were part of the lobbying effort asked KATU not to reveal their last names because they said they've received death threats.
"I would much rather give the names of the victims of gun violence, the victims of Parkland, the victims of Sandy Hook, the victims of Virginia Tech and all those other shootings," said Penelope, another high school student who backs the measure.
The bill the students helped write would require people to get a permit before buying guns, limit the amount of ammunition a person could buy, ban magazines with a capacity of more than five rounds and create gun-locking and storage requirements.
"It's overburdening both on the consumer and on the business," Kevin Dahl, who co-owns the store Tick Licker Firearms in Salem, told a KATU reporter. "We have so many laws that are already very restrictive that are great. If they enforce those, we do not need any additional. The magazine capacity, there's no manufacturers that actually do have only a five-round magazine capacity for a handgun."
A study by the Giffords Law Center, a pro-gun control group, says states with more restrictive gun laws have lower gun death rates. The group, using data from the Centers from Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and other sources, says California, for example, has the most restrictive gun laws in the country earning an A grade on the Giffords Law Center's Gun Law Scorecard. The latest CDC statistics, meanwhile, show California had an average of 7.9 firearm-related deaths per 100,000 people in 2017 and had the seventh lowest rate of gun-related deaths in the U.S.
The CDC says the top 10 states in terms of gun-related deaths per 100,000 people are Alaska (24.5), Alabama (22.9), Montana (22.5), Louisiana (21.7), Missouri (21.5), Mississippi (21.5), Arkansas (20.3), Wyoming (18.8), West Virginia (18.6) and New Mexico (18.5).
Each of those states gets an F rating from the Giffords Law Center's Gun Law Scorecard.
The CDC says the top 10 safest states in terms of gun-related deaths per 100,000 people are Hawaii (2.5), Massachusetts (3.7), New York (3.7), Rhode Island (3.9), Connecticut (5.1), New Jersey (5.3), California (7.9), Minnesota (8.2), Nebraska (8.3) and Iowa (9).
Of those states the Giffords Law Center's Gun Law Scorecard gives an A to California and New Jersey, an A- to Hawaii, Massachusetts, New York and Connecticut, a B+ to Rhode Island, a C+ to Minnesota, a C to Iowa and a C- to Nebraska.
Other studies by researchers at Presbyterian/Weill Cornell Medical Center and Boston Children's Hospital and the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health have found similar results.
Senate Bill 501 is co-sponsored by state Sen. Rob Wagner, D-Lake Oswego, and state Rep. Andrea Salinas, D-Lake Oswego.
Greg Stiles, a spokesman for Oregon's House Republicans, sent KATU the following statement:
"Oregonians have made it clear, no matter their affiliation, they are greatly concerned about their Second Amendment Rights. The bill introduced and backed by Democrats will overnight put thousands of law-abiding firearms owners at risk of committing crimes under the provisions of SB 501. House Republicans are keenly aware of the importance of gun ownership to our constituents. We know this is a case of party with a super-majority wantonly overreaching to achieve their goal of drastically reducing gun ownership."
"We feel that it's sensible and just like you need a license to drive a car this would serve the same purpose of making sure that gun owners are responsibly using their firearms," said Penelope.
The high school student also said most of the students lobbying for the bill have experienced lockdowns at school.
"When I'm in a lockdown, I think about where I sit in class," Penelope said. "I think about where I sit relative to the door and how a bullet might hit me. I think about where the shooter might come in, what I can grab to defend myself. And it's terrifying. It really is. ... Pretty awful."
State Rep. Sherrie Sprenger, R-Scio, said the bill is not the answer.
"Sometimes as a society, we get into the mindset of this is a big deal, do something and do something now, even if it's not the right thing or even if it's not thought out or even if it's not going to work, we just got to do something," Sprenger told a KATU reporter. "I don't know if these are the kinds of things that get us to a safer environment. These feel like things to create regulation."