Mass shootings prompt Oregon to vote on gun control legislation

Measure 114 will call for strict permit regulations on future Oregon gun buyers.

Protesters gathered at the second March for Our Lives rally in support of gun control in June 2022 in Washington.

A teenage girl and a teacher were killed at a performing arts school in St. Louis Monday, marking the 558th mass shooting in the United States this year. Despite this ongoing crisis, Oregon will be the only state to consider state-wide gun control in the midterm elections.

Oregon’s Measure 114, known as the “Changes to Firearm Ownership and Purchase Requirements Initiative,” would require gun buyers to obtain permits from law enforcement. To get a permit, a person must present a photo ID and fingerprints, complete safety training, pass a background check and pay a fee. Magazines holding over 10 rounds will be banned, and owning one will be classified as a Class A misdemeanor.

Gun control activists and survivors spoke in support of Oregon’s Measure 114 at a Monday Zoom conference organized by Yes on 114.

“I’m 16 years old urging the people in power above me to put a price on my generation’s lives that are higher than the value of guns,” Juniper Rook, a high school gun control activist, said. “I can’t vote on November 8th and neither can many of my peers. But regardless, passing Measure 114 is the next step to creating a safer world for my generation, those of voting age or not.”

In support of Measure 114, Rook organized a seven-school walkout, which took place Tuesday afternoon.

“Real people’s lives and children and safety are on the line and on the ballot,” Ari Feilich, policy director at Giffords Law Center, said. “This measure is a critical step on the path to progress – and other states, lawmakers and stakeholders are watching what happens in Oregon for how they can mobilize the electorate for life saving reforms in their own states.”

A poll published by the Oregonian this month revealed that more than half of Oregon voters supported the measure, while 39% opposed it and 10% were unsure.

The measure is similar to California’s Proposition 63, which passed in 2016 with a 63% majority vote. Prop 63 required background checks and banned high-capacity magazines. Restrictions on magazines were in contention until last year, when the U.S. Court of Appeals and the 9th Court upheld the law banning the production, purchasing and owning of cartridges that hold over 10 rounds.

“Measures like this one we’re trying to get passed in Oregon are critical,” David Hogg, a gun control activist and survivor of the 2018 Marjory Stoneman Douglas shooting, said. “We know in the states that have passed them that they have some of the lowest gun death rates in the country...They’ve been ruled constitutional and they’ve been proven to be effective.”

Gun deaths in California have consistently decreased since the law’s passage in 2016. In 2021, California was ranked first in the country for gun safety by Giffords Law Center after exhibiting a 37% lower gun death rate than the national average.

The center was created by former Arizona Representative Gabrielle Giffords, who was the victim of a mass shooting in 2011 which killed a nine-year-old girl. Ari Freilich, who also aided in the creation of Prop 63, spoke about the 2011 shooting.

“If the gunman had to stop and reload after firing ten rounds instead of 35, she might very well be alive today,” Freilich said. “Real people’s lives and children and futures and safety are on the line and on the ballot here in November.”

Stop114, an Oregon organization rallying against the reformative measure, states on their website that the Measure 114′s regulations are unrealistic for police to enforce. Their website reads, “No matter where you stand on guns, the simple fact is someday, somewhere you may have to protect yourself. And you cannot rely on the police.”

Other states, including Illinois, Hawaii and New Hampshire, have put strict gun regulations in place despite these concerns.

“Each day brings dozens of newly titled survivors, all of whom join this club unwillingly and unjustly,” Zoe Turay, a survivor of the 2021 Oxford High School shooting in Michigan, said. “Columbine. Sandy Hook. Hartland. Buffalo. The list is endless — Oregon can’t be next. The voters of Oregon have a unique chance to take matters into their own hands to prevent gun violence.”