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Firearms training measure qualifies for statewide vote

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Oregon Capital Bureau

Oregon voters will decide Nov. 8 whether to require firearms training and ban high-capacity ammunition magazines.

The Oregon Elections Division said a ballot initiative to do so has qualified for the general election. The state validated 131,671 of the 160,498 petition signatures (82%) submitted by sponsors. The number was more than the 112,020 required, based on 6% of the votes cast for governor in the 2018 election, a standard fixed by the Oregon Constitution.

Voters will see a total of four measures on the general election ballot, two initiatives that qualified by petition and two constitutional amendments referred by the Legislature.

This measure would limit ammunition magazines to 10 rounds each. In addition to the limit, the measure would require people to undergo classroom and live-fire training before they obtain a firearms permit, and complete background checks. (Current law allows a purchaser to obtain a gun even if the check is incomplete after three days; the measure would compel the check to be completed.)

Lift Every Voice Oregon, the movement that sponsored it and a second potential measure, was way behind at the end of May when an initial round of 2,500 signatures was submitted.

But two mass shootings outside Oregon resulted in a surge of petition volunteers and signatures before the July 8 deadline.

Ten Black people were shot dead May 14 in a supermarket in Buffalo, and 19 children and two teachers died 10 days later at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas.

The Rev. Dr. W.J. Mark Knutson, pastor of Augustana Lutheran Church in Portland, said those events helped produced more than 1,000 new volunteers and 150,000 more signatures.

“People were saying they could not sit anymore, so we had 1,000 new volunteers come forward to join the 500,” Knutson said in an interview earlier in July. “A lot were parents with children — it was pretty amazing. They are learning about democracy.

“The process is as important as the result — democratic action by the people. In this nation right now, we need to see democracy at work.”

Movement leaders shelved a second ballot measure that would have banned some assault weapons. Knutson said leaders hope to present it as a bill to the 2023 Legislature, which opens Jan. 9.

The measure joins three others on the general election ballot.

The other initiative, which has already qualified, would bar lawmakers from seeking re-election if they have 10 or more absences not excused by the House speaker or Senate president. That initiative was put forth by public employee unions and others in response to walkouts by Republican legislative minorities in 2019, 2020 and 2021.

The measure would change the Oregon Constitution, which requires two-thirds of lawmakers — 40 of 60 in the House, 20 of 30 in the Senate — to be present for the chambers to conduct business. Most legislative chambers, and the U.S. Congress, require a simple majority of members.

Oregon’s 2020 walkouts forced the majority Democrats to scuttle proposed climate-change legislation and shut down the short session. (Republican senators walked out for one day in 2021; Republicans in the House were deterred from doing so by a 2021 rule that set a maximum daily fine of $500 for an unexcused absence.)

The other measures, both constitutional amendments, were referred by the 2021 Legislature. One would define health care as a right; the other would remove slavery as a punishment for crime.

The Elections Division will assign numbers to all four measures. They will be accomplished by explanatory statements and fiscal analyses — those are done by panels — plus advocacy statements submitted and paid for by supporters and opponents. The Legislature writes statements for its own referrals.


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