Oregon voters to decide on a ballot initiative enacting changes to firearm purchases

On July 18, the Oregon secretary of state reported that a ballot initiative proposing changes to firearm purchases and ammunition magazine limits qualified for a place on the November ballot.

Lift Every Voice Oregon, the campaign behind the initiative, filed a total of 160,498 signatures, of which 131,671 were valid. In Oregon, the number of signatures required to qualify an initiated state statute for the ballot is 6% of the votes cast for governor in the most recent gubernatorial election, which equaled 112,020 valid signatures.

The initiative (#17) would enact a law outlining a procedure to apply for a permit to purchase a firearm. Permits would be issued by local law enforcement. Applicants would need to pay a fee, submit a photo ID, be fingerprinted, complete approved safety training, pass a criminal background check, and not be prohibited from possessing firearms. Law enforcement would be able to deny a permit to an applicant believed to be a danger to oneself or others. The initiative would also criminalize the manufacture, importation, possession, use, purchase, sale, or otherwise transferring of ammunition magazines capable of holding more than 10 rounds.

Existing law requires a seller or transferor to request a background check before firearm purchase.

The campaign has received endorsements from the Oregon Progressive Party, the League of Women Voters of Oregon, and the Oregon Alliance for Gun Safety. Rev. Mark Knutson, chief petitioner and pastor at Augustana Lutheran Church in Portland, said, “I hope it shows how residents in a state can come together from many directions and address the public health crisis of gun violence with common sense and well-put-together legislation. I hope that people are inspired to say: We can do this.”

There are currently no committees registered to oppose the initiative. The National Rifle Association-Institute for Legislative Action issued a statement on the initiative: “IP 17 is yet another anti-gun ballot initiative that seeks to further erode Second Amendment rights in Oregon. It imposes a permit requirement in order to exercise the Second Amendment right to acquire a firearm …The permit application process includes a one-size-fits-all training mandate, a subjective mental health review that is ripe for abuse, submission of fingerprints, and payment of a fee – up to $65 to apply, and up to $50 to renew. Issuing authorities have up to 30 days to issue permits to qualified applicants and they must be renewed every five years. Meanwhile, criminals will continue obtaining their firearms illegally.”

Oregon voters will be deciding on three other ballot measures this fall. The state Legislature voted to refer an amendment that would add “affordable health care as a fundamental right” to the Oregon Constitution and an amendment that would repeal language allowing slavery or involuntary servitude as criminal punishment. The third measure is a ballot initiative that would disqualify state legislators from re-election for unexcused legislative absenteeism, such as for legislative walkouts.

Between 2010 and 2020, an average of 64 ballot initiatives were filed in Oregon each election cycle with an average of five making the ballot. In 2022, a total of 60 citizen initiatives were filed for the ballot with two ultimately qualifying.

Additional reading:

Oregon 2022 ballot measures