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Safe Gun Storage Initiative Petition unlikely to make Oregon ballot

COVID-19, and the ban on large social gatherings, may be getting in the way of collecting enough signatures to get a measure on the November ballot.

SALEM, Ore. — Last year, attempts to pass a safe firearm storage law were foiled by a walkout in the Oregon Senate. This year, Republicans walked out again and, once again, safe storage never got a vote.

But the group State of Safety Action filed an initiative petition to get a safe storage law on the November ballot in case the Legislature failed.

That plan is now faltering because of the coronavirus.

The initiative petition, IP 40, requires 112,020 signatures to get on the November ballot. But with large events and social gatherings canceled and the health risk high for signature gatherers, chief petitioner Henry Wessinger said it’s likely impossible for the measure to make the ballot — and perhaps even an unethical pursuit during the pandemic.

“We’ve made what is a disappointing, but I think correct, decision to not proceed with signature gathering on IP 40,” Wessinger told OPB.

Extenuating circumstances have frustrated Wessinger’s attempts to get safe gun storage passed three times, but he said there are serious reasons to continue pursuing the measure.

“I believe that law would have started saving lives as soon as it became law,” he said.

The legislation has seen support in the state House and Senate, despite the Republican walkouts that have halted legislative efforts. Wessinger said he hopes another bill on safe storage will be introduced in 2021.

This article was originally published by Oregon Public Broadcasting, one of more than a dozen news organizations throughout the state sharing their coverage of the novel coronavirus outbreak to help inform Oregonians about this evolving health issue.

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