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2013 Session Ends. All Anti-Gun Bills Are Dead.

The 2013 Legislative Session has ended. I can recall no session where the efforts to strip you of your liberties were more intense.

Immediately in the wake of the Clackamas Town Center shootings and the Newtown Connecticut massacre, the anti-rights vultures swooped in wasting not one minute to exploit the deaths of the victims.

While every session brings the usual collection of anti-gun bills, this time the issue was on fire across the country. The media attention was extraordinary. Nationally, the pressure to ban firearms was at fever pitch, and in some states, gun owners saw their rights evaporate during late-night, backdoor deals designed to eliminate the input of the voters.

New York’s attacks were the most craven and obscene, but gun owners also got slammed in California, Colorado, Connecticut, and Delaware among others.

Yet here in Oregon, where our Governor is anti-gun, our Senate President is anti-gun, our Speaker of the House is anti-gun and both chambers are controlled by an anti-gun party, you managed to defeat every single assault on our rights!

Do not underestimate how remarkable that accomplishment is. And make no mistake, your activism is all that stood between us and a total loss of our gun rights.

I want to give you a wrap-up of what took place in Salem in 2013 and there will be more on that later, but first, I need to ask for you help.
Frankly, I’d never seen anything like this session.  As you know, if you’ve been with us for a while, Oregon Firearms has typically done one “renewal” mailing per year. Usually in December, we’d ask folks to renew their commitment to fighting for gun rights. Frankly, that mailing was usually responsible for providing a significant portion of our operating expenses for the year.  Then came Clackamas and Newtown and all hell broke loose.

The media descended and the phones simply did not stop ringing. Gun owners across the state were joining by the score and we had to add staff just to keep up.

Coincidentally, a long planned and extensive update of our website was being put into effect. (Yes, that was a little nerve-wracking! ) We were building our online auto-mailer to help you communicate with legislators. We were coping with aging servers and other hardware that needed to be replaced but had to be put off until the session ended to ensure that our ability to communicate with you was not interrupted. But we did it.

Now we have some catching up to do. Many of you have been very generous in your support even when we were doing no fundraising. For that, we are deeply grateful. But now I am going to ask you to make whatever contribution you can afford to help us offset the unusually high expenses we’ve incurred.  First though, I want to tell you what we’ve done and will do to make OFF the best activist group in the state.

As I’ve already mentioned, we have completely redesigned our website to make it easier to use and more informative.  We’ve created an automailing device that has contributed to virtually shutting down the legislative email system in protest of anti-gun bills. (And I can tell you, it was very effective.)

We’ve increased the number of volunteers working gun shows and other events so you can meet with us face to face. We’ve improved our use of social media and soon we’ll be upgrading our servers and other equipment so we can make sure you are always kept informed and served well, as OFF supporters. But as you know, all this does not come cheap. So I am hoping I can count on you to make the most generous contribution you can to keep us in this battle.

Your donation of $100.00, $50.00 or even $35.00 will mean a lot now as we prepare for the inevitable attacks that will come next year. We are going to be ready, but of course, we can’t do it without your help.

OFF members are the most dedicated and well informed gun owners in the state and quite possibly the entire country. But we were only able to achieve what we have because of your support. So please consider whatever you can afford to help us keep fighting.

Now, on to events in Salem.

So much went on this session that it will be hard to cover even the “highlights.”

Immediately after the Clackamas Town Center shooting, Ginny Burdick unveiled her ban on standard ammo magazines. The truth was that the bill had been drafted long before the shooting, but Burdick (to no one’s surprise) lost no time in exploiting the victims of that shooting to promote her agenda. This is nothing new. Burdick has been dragging this bill around for years.

But next came a stunner. With the help of Burdick and 13 other politicians, House Rep. Mitch Greenlick introduced HB3200.  This notorious atrocity banned virtually all modern firearms and magazines. Those in possession faced 10 years in prison and a quarter million dollar fine for each “violation.” But wait, there was more. The bill called for warrantless searches of your home by the police!   Think about it. The people who claim to only want “commonsense” gun laws would put most gun owners in prison for the rest of their lives and order the police to search their homes, Nazi-style with no warrant!  These are the people who call us “extremists.”  The cat was clearly out of the bag. There is no longer any pretense about their goals. Of course, this bill was quickly promoted by “Ceasefire Oregon” who insist they “don’t want to take anyone’s guns away.”  HB 3200 has proven forever what liars our opponents are.

No doubt it was bills like this that put over 3000 gun owners on the Capitol Steps in January. But your response was swift and decisive.  The reaction to 3200 soon had sponsors scurrying for cover.  Even as “Ceasefire Oregon” was encouraging its (few) supporters to lobby for the bill, politicians like Senator Mark Hass were calling our office to say they had removed their name from the bill. (Too late Mark. You should have read it.)

When it became clear that your activism had killed 3200, the Democrats in the Senate, led by Floyd Prozanski, cobbled together 4 anti-gun bills from the many introduced in hopes of passing them.

The bills would:

  • Ban defensive firearms on school property, (a policy that has proven to be a tragic and deadly failure time after time.)
  • Ban firearms in “public buildings” if the firearm was visible.
  • Outlaw private transfers of firearms.
  • Restrict available firearms training for CHL’s

    It’s important to note, that as bad as these bills were, they were far worse in their original forms. Rest assured it was the pressure from all those who called, wrote and showed up at the hearings that got them watered down to the still-bad versions that were voted on in committee.

 

Prior to the bills getting this far, we had spoken to Senator Arnie Roblan who assured us he was not interested in any bills that accomplished nothing but were done for purely political purposes.  In the past, as a House Rep, Roblan had sometimes been supportive of gun rights. Now as a newly elected Senator, he turned his back on gun owners and voted for every single one of these bills in the Senate Judiciary Committee. Roblan’s betrayal greatly simplified the candidate rating process. In those few moments of duplicity, Roblan earned himself an “F” from OFF.

 

Although all four anti-gun bills passed out of committee on a party line vote, your relentless pressure forced the bills into the Rules Committee because there simply were not enough votes on the Senate floor to pass them. The Rules Committee is where bills go to die, or be kept on life support until enough arms can be twisted to get them passed on the floor. Because of you, the arm twisting just didn’t work.

 

The entire Republican caucus refused to approve the bills. That meant that if only one Democrat refused to go along, the bills were dead. That one Democrat was Senator Betsy Johnson who said from the start she would be a “no”.  With the vote count at 15-15 the bills did not have the 16 votes needed to pass and they died in the Rules Committee.

 

When it became clear that the bills were dead, there was some last minute maneuvering by Senators from both parties that threatened to bring some kind of “background check” bill back to life. We considered this snatching defeat from the jaws of victory and let the players know that it would be a terrible idea to open up this can of worms again. Eventually those misguided ideas were dropped.

 

Meanwhile, while anti-gun bills were being blocked by your efforts in the Oregon Legislature, Multnomah County pushed through some new anti-gun regulations that mirrored Portland’s failed and laughable policies.  While the ordinances were being debated, Multnomah County Sheriff Dan Staton showed up to voice his support claiming they were great tools to help him fight gun crime.  Soon after, at a meeting in a rural part of the county, Staton did a remarkable reversal and promised not to enforce the regulations!  Earlier, Staton had published a letter expressing his support for Second Amendment Rights.  Clearly the Sheriff is confused.

Now a lawsuit by several Multnomah County residents against the proposals is being initiated. Like Portland’s rules, the ordinances are horribly drafted and largely unenforceable.  Stay tuned on this one.

Attacks on your rights are clearly center stage now. From the Feds right down to the county level, the efforts to strip you of your liberties are on the front burner for every tinhorn bureaucrat and politician.

Sadly, in many places these efforts have been successful, but even when they have been, the forces of resistance have not been passive.  From open defiance in New York,to Sheriffs suing in Colorado, the pro-rights movement is active and engaged and willing to fight.

In Oregon, once again, that spirit has prevailed.  In the face of overwhelming odds we beat them back one more time. In spite of the vicious attacks and lies, in spite of the frauds perpetrated by the likes of Burdick and fellow travelers, in spite of every effort to turn the best of us into criminals by legislative fiat, we won.

While we are always the first to let you know who is attacking you and what you should do about it, it’s important to remember the friends we have in the Oregon Legislature. Without a doubt, once again, the most ardent supporter of gun rights was House Rep Kim Thatcher.  While we have many strong supporters like Senators Larry George and Brian Boquist among others, Kim , once again, stood out as a true hero to liberty. She and her staff have been invaluable to our cause.

So now I ask you to take a moment to congratulate yourself. I want to thank every single person who called, wrote, testified or showed up at the rallies. This victory belongs to you. And while we really cannot rest as long as the Burdicks, and the Greenlicks and the Obamas are in office, as long as the threat comes from as close as your county commissioner or as far away as a faceless UN functionary, for right here and now, OFF members and supporters have proven we won’t compromise, we won’t back down and we won’t be defeated.

 

For you, I am truly grateful.

 

Kevin Starrett

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