Statistics show that 76 percent of women murdered by intimate partners were stalked first. A bill passed out of the Legislature last week would change gun ownership laws in an effort to keep guns out of the hands of domestic abusers and stalkers.
House Bill 2013 was passed by the Senate Thursday on a 25-3 vote. It had previously passed in the House and now goes to Gov. Kate Brown for her signature.
The bill make it illegal for a person to possess a firearm if he or she is the subject of a court order and does not request or attend a hearing within the required time period. It also defines the way and time period within which those who are prohibited from possessing firearms must turn their guns over to law enforcement, a licensed gun dealer or a safe third party.
“We hear it all the time from gun rights advocates that the gun isn’t the problem and that it’s the person using the gun,” said Sen. James Manning (D-Eugene), who co-carried the bill on the Senate floor. “This bill makes sure the person who’s going to go out and shoot another person doesn’t have a gun. That helps to solve that problem and this bill is going to save lives.”
Under Oregon law, certain individuals are already prohibited from possessing firearms or ammunition if they have restraining orders against them stemming from stalking, intimidating, molesting or menacing an intimate partner or child, and if there was a finding by the court that they pose a credible threat to the physical safety of the other person.
But currently, these individuals can simply choose not to request response hearings or not show up at scheduled hearings and still be able to legally possess guns. This bill closes that loophole by requiring these hearings and that respondents attend them in order for them to have a chance to keep their guns.
According to Children First for Oregon, nearly 2,900 children nationally are killed with guns each year, and 1,700 of those are homicides. Gun violence is the second most common cause of death for children. Former Benton County District Attorney Pete Sandrock testified in writing that every year an average of 600 women in America are killed by gun violence nationally and a third of them die within 30 days after obtaining a court protective order.
“Too many people in our nation are victims of gun violence,” said Sen. Floyd Prozanski (D-Eugene), who co-carried the bill on the Senate floor with Manning. “Even those we try hardest to protect – children and domestic abuse survivors – are being killed by the very people we know represent direct threats to those individuals. Protective orders only go so far, and we need to take away the means for abusers to murder their victims. This bill certainly will make a huge difference by doing exactly that.”
The bill also establishes the protocols for turning over firearms when a court has found that the person shouldn’t possess guns. These protocols include providing proof of transferring the firearms to a local law enforcement agency, licensed gun dealer or third party, as directed, within 24 hours of becoming subject to a court order.
The third party or gun dealer must declare receipt of the firearm and file documentation with the respondent’s declaration that he or she has turned the gun over to the third party. A district attorney can initiate contempt proceedings if a respondent does not file a declaration, as required.
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