April 5 hearing set for Oregon gun control bills

SALEM, Ore. — The Oregon Legislature plans to take up gun control legislation next week, when a Senate committee is set to hear public testimony on four measures and could decide whether to advance them to the full Senate.

Gun control advocates say they’ve given up on contentious efforts to limit sales of assault weapons and high-capacity ammunition magazines, but they’re pressing ahead with other measures that would impose new restrictions on carrying and selling firearms.

Sen. Floyd Prozanski, D-Eugene, chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, scheduled an extended public hearing for four bills April 5.

“If you look at these bills, they’re pretty much based on common sense and gun safety,” Prozanski said.

He’s introduced bills that would:

— Ban guns in primary and secondary schools, eliminating a law that allows people with concealed-handgun licenses to carry weapons in schools. Local school boards would be able to opt out and continue the existing policy.

— Prohibit openly carrying a weapon in public buildings, including the state Capitol. Gun owners with concealed-handgun licenses could continue to carry firearms if they’re hidden from view.

— Require background checks on gun sales and transfers, except between family members. Oregon already requires background checks on private sales at gun shows.

— Require a shooting test to obtain a concealed-handgun license.

Advocates on both sides of the gun control issue expect a spirited debate.

Gun rights supporters say the bills wouldn’t do anything to curb gun violence. The bills would only punish gun owners who obey the law, making it harder for them to protect themselves and people around them, said Kevin Starrett, director of the Oregon Firearms Federation, a lobbying and advocacy group.

“Any time a child is gunned down by a madman, that’s a horrible situation,” Starrett said. “But if you’re going to write laws to criminalize that, maybe you ought to recognize that we already have laws that criminalize that.”

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