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Oregon lawmakers discuss new gun control bill as Measure 114 remains in legal limbo

Senate Bill 348 would enact a gun permitting system and raise the minimum age to purchase a gun as Measure 114 faces multiple legal challenges.

SALEM, Ore. — Oregon lawmakers are discussing a new bill that both mirrors and expands upon Measure 114, the stalled gun control measure which faces multiple legal challenges after voters passed it in November.

Senate Bill 348 would raise the minimum age to purchase a gun from 18 to 21, with some exceptions for hunting rifles and shotguns.

It reflects parts of Measure 114 including banning high-capacity magazines and establishing a permit-to-purchase system for guns, but it would also postpone this permitting process until July 2024.

Under SB 348, gun permits would be more expensive, up from $65 to $150 for new permits and $110 for renewals - an increase that supporters said would give law enforcement more resources to run background checks and regulate sales.

The bill would also establish waiting periods for gun transfers and require gun safety courses.

Measure 114, Oregon's landmark gun control legislation that narrowly passed with voter approval in November 2022, currently faces multiple legal challenges at the state and federal levels.

Oregon Rep. Kim Thatcher, a Republican from Keizer, said SB 348 feels like a way to sidestep the ongoing lawsuits.

"The constitutionality of the provisions of [Measure 114] have been challenged and are being challenged and yet this bill will short-circuit that process, as it’s in the courts right now," Thatcher said. "[SB348] will cost the state a lot of money to implement for no real return."

At a public hearing for SB 348 on Monday night, a majority of speakers shared their opposition to the gun regulation bill.

"This amendment goes beyond ballot measure 114’s already unconstitutional requirements, like the increase in fees, time, delays, age restriction increases and retroactive magazine bans," said Aoibheann Cline, NRA State Director.

Some supporters of the bill at the hearing — including representatives for Everytown for Gun Safety, Mom Demand Action, and the Oregon Alliance for Gun Safety — said the bill needs adjustments but it would create a safer system for gun permits and background checks with the structure to make it work.

"Senate Bill 348 makes some important changes to aid in the implementation of the new permit system and ensures law enforcement has the tools and resources they need to implement the measure," an Oregon Alliance for Gun Safety spokesperson testified.

Most of the speakers at the Monday’s public hearing opposed the bill, saying this bill could also face legal challenges if passed.

"These measures are disenfranchising Oregonians and making them feel as if they have no voice in their government, I pray you will let Senate Bill 348 die," said John McDonnell of Salem.

And hundreds of people have submitted written testimony via OLIS – mostly in opposition.

"I had a customer come into my store and she was scared, she had a threatening neighbor," said Jeremiah Kaufman of Tualatin. "Police couldn’t do anything because he hadn’t harmed anybody yet. With this bill going through, she’d have to wait days and she didn’t have days."

The Senate Judiciary Committee is accepting written testimony on SB 348 through Wednesday night at 5 p.m. It will then hold a work session on Thursday.

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