PORTLAND, Ore. — A faith group held a rally and vigil Sunday evening in Portland, calling for a ban on assault weapons and large capacity magazines.
Lift Every Voice is made up of religious leaders, students, and other organizations. More than 100 people packed into Augustana Lutheran Church for the event.
There were several speakers, including two high school students who said they should not have to live in fear of a shooting at their schools. The group said they hope to ban assault weapons to prevent mass shootings.
"They are the tools of choice in the majority of mass shootings," said event speaker Liz McKenna.
School lockdowns and mass shootings are why many who attended the rally said Oregon gun laws need to change.
"I don't want my grandchildren and I don't want your grandchildren to have to go to school every day wondering if they're going to be in lockdown," said Vancouver Avenue First Baptist Church of Portland Pastor J.W. Matt Hennessee.
One Oregon high schooler who spoke said lockdowns are common at his school.
"The very act of repeated lockdown drills and lockout drills is quite unsettling," he said. "We need them of course, but we shouldn't."
Reverend Mark Knutson said concerns from students are why he is part of Lift Every Voice Oregon.
"I asked one of our high school students, what is their big three challenges, number one was grades, number two was mass shootings in schools, number three was the earthquake," Reverend Knutson said. "When I hear teenagers saying the anxiety they carry, when I hear 5-year-olds talking about a lockdown drill, that's not the kind of country we want to be or the kind of state."
The group proposed two bills to the Oregon Legislature. One would ban assault weapons and require those who already have them to either register them and pass a background check or get rid of them.
The other bill would ban large capacity magazines that can hold more than 10 bullets. Read more on their website.
Group members said they are not against the Second Amendment or people having guns, but said there is no need for assault weapons.
"Yes, we understand there are times when you have to protect yourself. Yes, we understand that hunting is a part of our life and our culture and we have no problems with that, but there are some weapons that are too far," said Congregation Beth Israel Rabbi Michael Cahana.
After multiple speakers and performances by jazz musicians, the group filed outside for a candlelight vigil. They were met by six counter-protesters. One of the protesters said he's concerned people will have their gun rights taken away and thinks the group is being too strict with gun control.
"My heart breaks for the people of the mass shootings and all that, but I don't know that the answer is giving up your weapons," said Robert, who only wanted to give his first name.
The final versions of the proposed bills are expected to be released to the public early next week. The bill also includes a two-page definition of what would be considered an assault weapon.