Oregon Lawmakers Send Bill to Governor’s Desk That Bans Guns at the State Capitol

Oregon’s safe gun storage bill is now on Democratic Governor Kate Brown’s desk and would ban all firearms from the Capitol following armed protesters who stormed the building in December.

A protester carries a banner of a far-right group, Proud Boys, that has brawled with Black Lives Matter protesters while other members start to unfurl a large U.S. flag in front of the Oregon State Capitol in Salem on Sept. 7, 2020. (AP Photo/Andrew Selsky)

(CN) — Oregon lawmakers on Wednesday approved a gun storage bill that would ban all firearms from the state Capitol and require gun owners to safely store and lock their firearms at home. The bill goes to Governor Kate Brown’s desk for signing.

The Oregon Senate approved the bill in a 17-7 vote. Republican lawmakers rallied against the gun regulation bill while Democrats argued the bill would impact only a portion of gun owners who do not already own measures to lock up and store their firearms.

Democratic state Senator Floyd Prozanski said the bill takes the lead from a 2008 landmark U.S. Supreme Court decision that ruled Americans have the right to bear arms under the Second Amendment, but lawmakers can regulate that right.

“The bottom line is that we have a bill that does in fact address certain areas that we feel as a state need to be regulated,” said Prozanski, who was a bill sponsor and said he is a gun owner himself.

Democratic state Senator Ginny Burdick said the bill would save lives.

“Passing a safe storage policy for firearms and improving safety in our schools and our State Capitol is overdue,” Burdick said in a statement. “Thank you to everyone who worked on and advocated for this legislation. Onward to the Governor’s desk!”

Brown will review the bill when it gets to her desk, according to spokesperson Liz Merah.

“Governor Brown believes that every American has the right to be free from gun violence, and she has continually spoken out about the need to pass sensible gun legislation,” Merah said in a statement. “She also believes that public safety is one of the most important responsibilities of government, and she appreciates the impassioned testimony this bill has received from so many Oregonians.”

Named after Cindy Yuille and Steve Forsyth who were killed in 2012 at a Portland-area shopping mall, the safe gun access bill would mandate gun owners report stolen firearms. According to the bill authors, the owner of a stolen AR-15 style gun used in the shooting did not report it missing. Under current Oregon law, a gun owner is not legally required to notify police.

The bill authors say if made into law the bill could curb suicides by gun and accidental shootings in the home caused by children playing with unsecured guns.

“Passing a safe storage policy for firearms and improving safety in our public buildings and our state Capitol is overdue,” Burdick said.

In December 2020, armed protesters stormed the Oregon State Capitol in protest of the state’s Covid-19 shutdown. Republican Senator Lynn Findley said he needs a gun to defend himself, but did not specifically reference the December incident on Wednesday as he spoke on the Senate floor.

“When I come into this Capitol, I bring a gun because if I happen to walk out the door, have you seen all the homeless people and the other people walking around here in the evening?” Findley said. “I do not feel overly safe outside of this building at night.”

Republican minority leader Fred Girod said the bill would impede gun owners from protecting themselves in their own homes.

“When you live out in the country and you dial 911, a police officer isn’t there in a few minutes,” said Girod.

He also criticized how the Oregon House merged its safe-storage bill with a separate Senate gun bill, which only took up firearms in public places. This March, Girod said lawmakers received threats for voting on the original version of the bill.

“It is not OK to threaten people’s lives, their staff. It’s not an appropriate way to lobby,” said Girod.

Under current Oregon law, concealed handgun licensees can bring their guns into the Capitol.

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