Oregon gun safety ballot initiative sparked following Texas mass shooting – National

When Raevahnna Richardson spotted a woman standing outside the library in Salem, OregonCollecting signatures for a gun safety initiative, she starts with hers and adds her name.

“I signed it to keep our kids safe, because something had to change. I have a kid going into first grade this coming season and I don’t want him to be scared at school,” Richardson said.

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“To keep our children safe.” That’s what a lot of parents over USA is worried about after the horrific massacre of 19 children and two teachers in Uvalde, Texas. Organizers say that mass shooting gave a huge boost to the Oregon ballot initiative, with the number of volunteers doubling to 1,200 and signatures growing exponentially, the organizers said. organization said.

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With the U.S. Senate inability to pass a “red flag” bill and the majority of state legislatures either taking no action on gun safety in recent years or moving in the opposite direction, activists see voter-driven initiatives as a possible alternative.

“To take really powerful action at this point, it would take everyone in a democracy to exercise that democratic right to get the vote and get to vote for it,” said Father Mark Knutson, a Oregon’s main petitioner said the initiative.

According to Sean Holihan, state legislative director for Giffords, an organization dedicated to saving lives from gun violence, Oregon appears to be the only state in the US with a gun safety initiative underway for the election. year 2022.

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If the initiative is voted on and passed, anyone who wants to buy a gun will first have to obtain a license, valid for five years, from local law enforcement after completing their training. safety, pass criminal background checks and meet other requirements. The measure would ban ammunition magazines over 10 rounds, with the exception of current owners, law enforcement and the military, and state police would create a database of guns.

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Knutson said the ages of people collecting signatures from registered voters ranged from high school students to 94 years old. Volunteers were kept in a room at the Augustana Lutheran Church in Portland, sorted through baskets of envelopes containing signatures mailed.

The National Rifle Association’s Legislative Action Institute strongly opposed the initiative, saying on its website that “these anti-gun citizens are hunting YOU, law-abiding gun owners Oregon law and YOUR gun. They don’t care about the Constitution, your right to keep and bear arms, or your God-given right to self-defense. “

Knutson said the effort in Oregon “could begin to build hope nationally for others to do the same.”

Voters in the two neighboring Democratic-majority states approved gun-safe voting measures.

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In 2018, Washington state voters passed restrictions on the purchase and possession of firearms, including raising the minimum purchase age to 21, adding background checks and increasing wait times. In 2016, voters there unanimously approved a measure that would authorize courts to issue high-risk protective orders to eliminate an individual’s right to access a gun.

California Voters in 2016 passed a measure banning possession of high-capacity magazines and requiring certain individuals to pass a background check to purchase ammunition.

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In the same year, voters in Maine narrowly beat the proposal to require background checks before gun sales.

Daniel Webster, co-director of the Center for Gun Violence Solutions at Johns Hopkins University, said ballot initiatives “are a great way to advance popular gun policies.”

“But honestly, I don’t know how one state’s ballot initiative affects the ability of other states to act,” he added.

Oregon’s initiative needs to submit at least 112,080 signatures from registered voters – confirmed by the secretary of state’s office – by July 8 to get the ballot, Knutson said. As of this week, the campaign has received more than 52,000 signatures. Knutson had a plan for the teenagers to travel to the secretary of state in Salem on a school bus to deliver signed boxes of papers.

Meanwhile, pro-gun activists are also using ballot initiatives to defend what they see as their Second Amendment rights.

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In 2020, Montana voters narrowly approved a ballot measure that would remove the authority of local governments to regulate the carrying of concealed weapons and limit their authority to regulate the carrying of weapons. concealed gas.

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Voters in Iowa This November will decide whether to add gun rights language to their state constitutions, after Republicans with a majority in the Legislature passed a resolution last year making it on the ballot without collecting a signature.

Opponents say that if the Iowa measure is passed, courts could end up enacting restrictions on gun background checks, the permits required to carry a firearm, and a ban on owning firearms for gun owners. with those convicted of felonies.

An initiative in Nebraska, one of several weapons there this year, will allow concealed or exposed weapons to be carried in public places. And in Washington state, an initiative would ban state and local governments from imposing limits on the purchase and possession of firearms.

© 2022 Canadian Press

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