The Oregon Firearms Federation was founded in 1998. After several years of watching other local “gun organizations” give away the store, it became obvious that Oregon needed a no-compromise voice for gun owners.With the help of Gun Owners of America, OFF was created and went to work in the 1999 legislative session. It was to be an interesting year.During that session Senator Ginny Burdick introduced legislation (SB 700) to end the private sale of firearms at gun shows. Despite our best efforts, the bill passed through the Republican controlled Senate and was sent to the House, where Kevin Mannix, who was then the head of the House Judiciary Committee, set out to “amend” it. And amend it he did. Working with a group called “Oregon Gun Owners,” Republican Mannix and then House Rep Floyd Prozanski actually managed to make the bill worse. That was the birth of HB 2535.
From that point on, OFF worked overtime to kill this awful legislation, while “Oregon Gun Owners” pulled out all the stops to promote the new gun control bill they had help craft. The National Rifle Association withdrew from the battle altogether and never said one word to their members about the bill as it progressed through the legislative process.
On June 22, 1999, HB 2535 passed the House 34-26. Things looked grim for gun owners. With both Republican and Democrat legislators pushing new restrictions, the National Rifle Association refusing to acknowledge that the bill even existed, and a supposedly “pro-gun” organization promoting it, the chances of beating it in the Senate seemed remote at best.
The original gun show bill had already passed the Senate. Mannix and Prozanksi’s even worse version had passed the House and now was headed for the Senate. We were uniformly warned that we had no chance of killing it. But OFF never gave up. With a constant stream of mail and electronic communication, OFF reached out to gun owners across the state who in turn hammered legislators. The Senate vote was scheduled for July 6. It was postponed until July 7 and again till the 8th. OFF kept up the pressure. The bill was postponed again until the 9th and again until the 12th. The pressure was working. The powers that be were scared. They needed one more vote and the actions of OFF members were holding them at bay. The bill was moved to the 13th and the phone calls and emails poured in. “Oregon Gun Owners” kept trying to sell their piece of garbage as “good for gun owners” but the gun owners weren’t buying it. Finally on the 16th the Senate held their vote. OFF’s refusal to give up had won the day. The bill failed by one vote. The Senate floor erupted into chaos as anti-gun legislators like Kate Brown tried every trick they could think of to change the outcome. (Brown actually reversed her “yes” vote so she could try to have the bill reconsidered.) But it was over. With NRA on the sidelines and a local faux gun group pushing for gun control, OFF supporters alone killed the major bill of the session.
Since then, there have been countless battles. We have seen numerous attempts to ban modern firearms, efforts to force “lock-up-your-self-defense” laws and constant attempts to ban guns anywhere school children gather. But since 1999 OFF has defeated almost all of them.
OFF passed legislation to correct errors in Oregon law that allowed some people to get their rights back to buy a gun but then could still not own it and it was OFF’s efforts that clarified how to legally transport a firearm in a vehicle or motorcycle, and ended the ban on loaded carry on snowmobiles and ATV’s.
When Oregon was forced into compliance with the Brady Campaign/NRA mental health reporting legislation, it was OFF members whose constant pressure forced over 10 amendments to provide protection for the privacy of Oregon residents and it was OFF that convinced the Psychiatric Security Review Board to remove some of its more onerous impediments to firearms rights restoration.
OFF’s meetings with the Oregon State Police resulted in widespread changes and improvements in their conduct during firearms purchase background checks and OFF has led the fight for CHL privacy and recognition of other states concealed handgun licenses. OFF representatives have appeared on countless radio and TV shows across the state and nation along with presentations at numerous schools and universities.
OFF director Kevin Starrett has produced the most complete source for information on Oregon’s gun laws. OFF volunteers staff gun shows all around Oregon and provide up to the minute information on pending and existing legislation.
OFF’s website is the single most in-depth source of vital information on all aspects of gun ownership in Oregon and OFF’s free email alerts provide breaking news and action items available nowhere else.
OFF maintains a regular presence in the legislature, monitoring bills and amendments and providing OFF supporters with the facts they need to respond to threats. No other organization, nationally or locally, can or will give you this information this quickly.
Several years after OFF was formed, we created the Oregon Firearms Educational Foundation. OFEF is a 501c3 charitable organization. In addition to funding many educational efforts across the state, OFEF has been responsible for numerous important lawsuits. OFEF has regularly taken on battles no one else will touch. OFEF does not pick its fights based on how sure we are of winning. We take them on because it needs to be done.
We sued the City of Portland when they held a New Years Party and declared that CHL holders would not be welcome. After several years of litigation the courts reached a bizarre and inexplicable ruling that while the City could not ban CHL holders, a company hired by the City could. However, Portland has since rescinded that policy and has never attempted to ban license holders from New Years events since.
When the Medford School district threatened a teacher because she had a concealed handgun license, OFEF took on her case. No one else would. At the time we were battling on behalf of the teacher, the NRA’s Wayne LaPierre was giving speeches claiming no adult except a police officer should be allowed on school property with a firearm. Needless to say, we received no help from NRA. While the courts ruled that a school could disarm its employees, the case reaffirmed that they could NOT disarm others.
When Western Oregon University had a student arrested and punished for legally possessing a firearm on campus, OFEF stepped up and had the charges against him dropped. Then we sued the Oregon University System for having a rule that was clearly illegal. In September of 2011, the Oregon Appeals Court ruled that OFEF was right, and the rule was invalidated.
OFF’s PAC, the Oregon Firearms Political Action Committee has donated thousands to solid pro-gun candidates across the state and helped defeat anti-gun zealots like Judy Steigler.
OFF supporters are the most passionate and committed gun owners in the state. They are also the best informed. We would be pleased to have you among them.