Tuesday, February 7, 2012
POLK COUNTY -- Several proposed gun law changes, including one that would make it a crime to carry a firearm in public buildings, have been introduced for the shortened 2012 Oregon Legislature.
Also on the docket is a bill sponsored by Rep. Jim Thompson (R-Dallas) to strengthen protection of personal information for individuals with concealed handgun licenses.
One of the high-profile pieces of potential legislation is Senate Bill 1550, introduced by Sen. President Pro Tempore Ginny Burdick (D-Portland).
It would make it a Class C Felony to possess a firearm or any other instrument used as a dangerous weapon on school grounds -- which would apply to K-12 schools, colleges, universities and community colleges; individuals with concealed handgun licenses would not be exempt.
The bill seems like a response to a ruling by the Oregon Court of Appeals last September that public universities don't have the authority to prohibit people with a permit to carry a gun on campus.
That issue began with an incident at Western Oregon University in 2009, in which a student with a gun was arrested in the Werner University Center. He had a concealed handgun license.
The Oregon University System did not request the bill and won't be lobbying on its behalf, said OUS spokeswoman Di Saunders.
"We are pursuing our ability to ensure safe campuses through other means," Saunders said.
Burdick has gone one step further with SB 1551, which would ban guns in all public buildings. Both bills were referred to the Senate Judiciary Committee last week.
Thompson's House Bill 4054 is one of two pro-gun proposals. It would prohibit the Public Employees' Benefit Board from authorizing or requiring the collection of information about firearms from eligible employees or family members applying for health benefits.
Rep. Kim Thatcher (R-Keizer) has introduced House Bill 4045, which would limit disclosure of records or information that identifies a person as an applicant for or holder of a concealed handgun license.
Kevin Starrett, executive director of the Oregon Firearms Federation, said he believes HB 1550 and HB 1551 are "dead on arrival." It was OFF's lawsuit against the Oregon University System that lead to the appeals court ruling.
"We've seen proposals like this for years, it's nothing new," Starrett said. "I would love to see the Senate pass this crap and force them to go on record voting against people's rights."
Of HB 4054, Starrett said it would be hard for "anti-gun people to oppose that bill at the same time they're promoting privacy for Public Employees Retirement System numbers."