By Judith McFarlane
Oregon House Bill 4145 finally passed the state house with 36 Democrats and one Republican voting yes and 22 Republicans plus one Democrat, Rep. Caddy McKeown of Coos Bay, voting no.
The legislation expands existing federal law, which bans people who perpetrate domestic violence against a spouse, live-in partners or children from owning guns. Under HB 4145, that prohibition also applies to boyfriends and girlfriends and now, under Oregon law, bans gun ownership of anyone subject to a restraining order by a family member or sexual partner and convicted stalkers. It also provides the tools to implement the law.
We have watched the failure of two recent federal bills; one merely stipulated that terrorists on the No Fly List be banned from purchasing and possessing firearms and another called for a ban on the sale of bump stocks, bills that Republican lawmakers — funded by the NRA — stopped dead in their tracks.
We have heard Republican politicians advocate that school-age students should be able to carry guns into their classrooms, citizens strap their guns on and openly carry them into parks, bars, restaurants and churches, marching to the NRA theme that more guns in the hands of more people is the answer to violence.
In our state, we just saw the same common backing of the NRA with those who voted no on HB 2145. Example: our district representative, husband and father David Brock Smith, voted no on all three readings of HB 4145, without comment. Could his no vote have been influenced because he receives campaign funding from the NRA Political Victory Fund?
I have and always will appreciate the Second Amendment. I am not opposed to hunting any more than I am to fishing or purchasing meat in grocery stores. I believe in the right of self protection.
But lax gun laws, over and over again have led to tragedy that could — not entirely — but could minimize the damage we are doing to each other and our children and grandchildren.
Are stronger gun laws too much to expect? To demand?
We will be told our local representative’s constituents who urged a no vote on HB 4145 were the vast majority, which is probably correct.
The NRA notifies its members when any gun legislation is imminent and asks their members to demand their representatives cast a pro-weapons vote even when the bills have little or nothing to do with the Second Amendment. The majority of citizens who are not members of the NRA rarely know of any bills brought before the Oregon legislature.
On both sides of the aisle, state and federal, corporate and special interests all too often overshadow the needs of the public, which could be eliminated via public funding of all campaigns. In addition, newspapers, including our Curry Coastal Pilot, could publish proposed state legislation so all interested citizens can all be part of the process.
Our democracy is fragile and its future does depend on a well-informed and politically-engaged society