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Gun regulation backers claim victory in Oregon

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Oregon Capital Bureau

Measure 114 supporters have claimed victory, however narrow, in their campaign for firearms training requirements and limits on ammunition magazines.

With 1.5 million votes tallied statewide as of noon Wednesday, 50.7% voted yes, to 49.3% who voted no.

The Rev. Mark Knutson is a pastor at Augustana Lutheran Church in Portland and a chief sponsor of the ballot initiative. The petition drive got propelled after the mass shootings May 24 at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas, where 19 children and two adults died.

“We started gathering signatures at a time when too many Oregonians and people around the country were feeling hopeless,” said Knutson, who spoke for the Lift Every Voice Oregon coalition of religious and other organizations. “Hopeless in the face of record-breaking violence. Hopeless as not enough was being done.

“Thankfully, a diverse grassroots coalition for change has restored our hope and will save lives. There’s more work to be done, but right now, we are going to celebrate with so much joy in our hearts, knowing that brighter and better days are ahead.”

Measure 114 would require people to complete firearms training before they can obtain permits to purchase guns, and limit ammunition magazines to 10 rounds each. Measures usually take effect 30 days after an election, when results are certified.

Opponents may go to court, as they did in California, where a similar limit was imposed by a voter-approved measure in 2016. The U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals upheld the ban about a year ago.

Measure 114 is the first gun regulation initiative on the Oregon ballot in 22 years, although the Legislature has passed several measures of its own over the past seven years.

Other measures

Two other statewide measures, neither as controversial as Measure 114, remain on track to approval in returns posted at noon Wednesday.

Measure 112 would remove slavery (involuntary servitude) as a basis for criminal punishment. The language dates back to the 1857 Constitution, which otherwise barred slavery from Oregon, although it also barred Black people from becoming residents. (That language was removed by voters in 2002.) The Oregon State Sheriffs Association opposes the measure, concerned about how it may affect work programs in county jails. Other language in the Oregon Constitution, which voters changed in 1994, specifically authorizes work programs in state prisons. Incomplete returns showed 55% approval.

Measure 113, another proposed constitutional amendment, would bar legislators from seeking re-election if they have 10 or more unexcused absences from a regular or special session. It would leave in place the requirement for the presence of two-thirds majorities (40 in the House, 20 in the Senate) for the chambers to conduct business. Public employee unions proposed it as a means of thwarting walkouts that minority Republicans employed in 2019 and 2020 to block votes on legislation sought by Democrats. It had the biggest lead among the four measures, with 68% of voters approving it.

Measure 111 — a constitutional right to health care — now appears to be trailing but splitting voters down the middle. If it should pass, the measure would guarantee access to health care as a right in the Oregon Constitution, though it would not create a requirement for funding or institute a new tax. Incomplete returns showed it trailing, splitting Oregon voters 50.1% against and 49.9% for it.


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