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Jan-10-2013 16:17printcomments

Opponents Set for Ugly Legislative Gunfight in the Oregon Capitol

Gun proponent Kevin Starrett predicts "a very, very ugly hideous fight" in the 2013 session.

Gun rights and control advocates gear up for a showdown in the 2013 legislative session.
Gun rights and control advocates gear up for a showdown in the 2013 legislative session.

(PORTLAND, OR) - With emotions still raw from the Clackamas Town Center shooting and the December massacre at a Connecticut elementary school, both sides of the gun debate in Oregon are readying for a showdown.

“I have never, in the entire time I have worked in this business, seen what I’m seeing now,” said Kevin Starrett, who founded the Oregon Firearms Federation in 1998. “It is literally a madhouse. It’s not like we are gearing up. It’s just everybody is working all the time and we can’t keep up.”

Starrett predicted the 2013 session, which begins Feb. 4, is “going to be a very, very ugly hideous fight.”

On the upside: his group has seen an increase in membership since the shootings, and Starrett said he’s getting back-to-back calls from gun owners worried about new legislation limiting their right to bear arms.

“If you go to any place that sells guns, you would think they were robbed,” he said.

The Oregonian reported last week that applications for concealed handgun licenses were up considerably in the Portland metro area since the shootings (300 percent in Washington County). Starrett said at his gun club he’s doubled the number of gun classes and tripled the size of participants. “It’s just madness,” he said.

Likewise, Ceasefire Oregon, a group that aims to reduce gun violence through regulation, is pretty busy, too.

“Never ever have I ever seen anything like this,” said Penny Okamoto, the group’s executive director. Okamoto said she’s heard from a lot of angry people who want increased rules for gun owners, including background checks and a ban on high-capacity ammunition magazine that hold 10 or more rounds or bullets.

“I have never heard from so many people ever,” she said. “They’re really outraged. They want tighter gun laws. They want gun laws that make it less easy for felons and the mentally ill to access guns.”

Okamoto aso said her group is pushing for a prohibition on concealed-carry handguns in public schools, grades K-12.

State Rep. Dennis Richardson made national headlines when he recommended arming teachers and mall employees, and training concealed-carry permit holders to provide volunteer security on school campuses.

“We do not need to change current Oregon law,” he said. Oregon law allows concealed carry permit holders to have their guns in most places, including schools. Despite the law, many districts have banned weapons.

State Rep. Michael Dembrow, D-Portland, plans to introduce legislation that would go another step and allow public colleges and universities to ban all weapons from their campuses, including guns owned by Concealed Weapons Permit holders.  But, as Dembrow mentions in his recent newsletter to constituents, the state court of appeals ruled in 2011 that public institutions could not prohibit concealed weapons permit holders from bringing guns onto campus.

“I believe that it’s time to give them that explicit authority: institutions, whether public or private, should be able to make the decision that they feel is right for their campus and their students,” he said.

State Rep. Ginny Burdick, D-Portland, plans to introduce legislation banning guns that accept 10 rounds or more, with exceptions.

And where Gov. John Kitzhaber is concerned, “nothing is off the table,” spokeswoman Amy Wojcicki said.

“The governor sees no reason for civilians to have assault weapons — period,” she said. ”He’s directed staff to quickly research a range of options for him to consider on firearms regulation, mental health and school safety measures that could be the basis for a comprehensive approach to the problem.”

Contact Shelby Sebens at, or follow her on Twitter @ShelbySebens. For more Northwest Watchdog updates, visit NWWatchdog on Facebook and Twitter.

Special thanks to Northwest Watchdog




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Anonymous January 10, 2013 6:47 pm (Pacific time)

There is no compromise on the 2nd Amendment....period. There is no legitimate exception to the Second Amendment for military-style weapons, because military-style weapons are precisely what the Second Amendment guarantees our right to keep and bear. The purpose of the Second Amendment is to secure our ability to oppose enemies foreign and domestic, a guarantee against disorder and tyranny. Consider the words of Supreme Court justice Joseph Story — who was, it bears noting, appointed to the Court by the guy who wrote the Constitution: The right to keep and bear arms is a civil right. If you doubt that, consider the history of arms control in England, where members of the Catholic minority (and non-Protestants generally) were prohibited from bearing arms as part of the campaign of general political oppression against them. The Act of Disenfranchisement was still in effect when our Constitution was being written, a fact that surely was on the mind of such Founding Fathers as Daniel Carroll, to say nothing of his brother, Archbishop John Carroll. The Second Amendment speaks to the nature of the relationship between citizen and state. Liberals may think that such a notion is an antiquated relic of the 18th century, but then they should be arguing for wholesale repeal of the Second Amendment rather than presenting — what’s the word? — disingenuous arguments about what it means and the purpose behind it. Liberals are forever asking: “Why would anybody need a gun like an AR-15?” The answer is: Because we are not serfs. We are a free people living under a Republic of our own construction. We may consent to be governed, but we will not be ruled.

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