Sen. Ted Ferrioli, R-John Day, said four gun control bills are headed for a vote in the Oregon Legislature but he doesn’t expect any to become law.
He said it will be difficult for Democrats to weather the political fallout from such a move with unexpected revenue now available to increase mental health services. He said the legislature will have $1 billion more to spend than previously forecast due to greater profits from capital gains, stocks and increases in the personal income of many citizens.
“I’ve never seen such a blizzard of emails about any issue since I’ve been in office,” said Ferrioli, who has served since 1996.
His District 30 encompasses Baker, Harney, Jefferson, Malheur, Grant, Wheeler and parts of Wasco, Clackamas, Deschutes, Lake and Marion counties.
“I assume the Democrats in the Senate and House are receiving the same types of letters that I am. These are not coming from a template, like those from a special interest group. They usually begin with something like, ‘I’ve never written to a public official before but I’m wanting to now because I’m concerned about losing my Second Amendment rights…’”
He said Republicans are countering Democratic attempts to control the use of weapons by pledging to support “significant increases” in mental health treatment programs. He said that is a “sensible” option that doesn’t “deprive people of their constitutional rights.”
“The common denominator in recent mass shootings is that the perpetrators had mental problems and gun laws that were already on the books didn’t stop them from acting out,” he said. “We need to invest more in treatment options to keep our schools and shopping centers safe.”
He said because of citizen pressure being applied on the hot button issue, the bills that have passed review by the Senate Judiciary Committee do not include a proposal to ban any type of weapon.
The four measures currently under consideration are:
• Senate Bill 347 – Allows K-12 school districts to adopt a policy that prohibits guns on campus, even if the weapon holder has a concealed carry permit. An exception to this rule is made for ROTC (Reserve Officer Training Course) participants, gun safety classes, hunter training courses and similar programs.
• Senate Bill 699 – Prohibits people with carry permits from bringing weapons into a public buildings or grounds without special permission from government officials unless it is hidden from view. Law enforcement officers, members of the military and other uniformed officials are not bound by this rule.
• Senate Bill 700 – Mandates a criminal background check for the transfer and sale of firearms between private individuals with an exception of immediate family members.
• Senate Bill 796 – Requires concealed handgun license applicants to personally demonstrate their competence with a firearm in front of an authorized instructor. Online and electronic training courses will no longer be allowed.
Ferrioli, the Republican leader for the Senate, is protesting movement on any gun control proposals with Monday’s traffic accident that took one dissenting vote off the table. Sen. Betsy Johnson, D-Scappoose, was injured Monday in a crash on the way to Salem and hospitalized.
“Something this serious that affects people’s civil rights needs to have every senator present and weighing in,” said Ferrioli.
He said if she was present to cast her vote with Republicans, then there would be 15 senators in opposition if all 14 GOP members stand firm. He said that would prevent the 15 remaining Democrats from passing the bills by the necessary majority.
He said citizens wanting to register their stance on the issue of gun control should email all 30 senators through the Oregon State Legislature website, www.leg.state.or.us.
At the end of the day, said Ferrioli, it is unlikely that any gun control legislation will become law because elected officials don’t want to deal with the backlash from constituents.
“These bills can’t pass and supporters are simply using this opportunity to define themselves and the issue for the next election,” he said.
On the House side, Rep. John Huffman, R-The Dalles, plans to be a “No” vote on any gun control issues that are sent their way from the Senate. His District 59 includes parts of Wasco County, as well as all or part of Sherman, Gilliam, Wheeler, Jefferson, Grant, Deschutes, Clackamas and Marion counties.