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Oregon Disarmament Bill: SB 978
by Dennis Linthicum, Oregon State Senator District 28, April Newsletter 4/25/19
Super majorities and the poison fruit of statism can grow in orchards on both the left and right sides of the road. We know this because history informs us and dictates what we will see tomorrow. Patrick Henry told us, “I have but one lamp by which my feet are guided, and that is the lamp of experience. I know no way to judge the future but by the past.”
In today’s newsletter, I am going to bypass several thousand bills that are in the Legislature. I’m going to skip-over the gross receipts sales tax, the carbon tax, the recent ban on plastic straws, as well as, the “mandatory requirement for vaccinations in exchange for education benefits” rigamarole.
Instead, I want to focus attention on the Oregon disarmament bill: SB 978. It is still alive and like a zombie is shuffling through the hallways of the marble palace. This bill continues to exist by the force of this administration’s empty rhetoric and faulty logic.
SB 978 represents a purposeful and energetic effort for disarming Oregonians and infringing on their liberties. The sheer animosity leveled against law abiding citizens is inscrutable and illustrates a complete disrespect for our 2nd Amendment rights. The magical facade of “needed reform” is all that is necessary to mask the demolition of our constitutional liberties. It appears that the real goal is total disarmament of law-abiding Oregonians.
The pretense of the bill is that crime is pervasive; guns are unsafe; children are being killed and something needs to be done. Perfectly fine sentiment, yet, where are the statistics for Oregon’s problems? Remember, the original SB 978 was a proposal for a reporting and fact finding effort to determine which policy changes would effectively impact gun violence. Apparently, no one cares about the real data.
There are more firearms in Oregon than people. In the presence of millions of firearms and billions of rounds of ammunition how many unlocked, or unserialized firearms have been used in crimes? Additionally, there are more firearms in Oregon than vehicles, but there are more vehicle deaths than firearm injuries, where is the balance?
Unfortunately, the bill, as it stands, focuses on creating more arbitrary, capricious and unnecessary crimes that can’t be universally enforced because of the sheer scope of probable violations. This means selective enforcement opportunities will likely be used against political opponents while the issues associated with enforcement among racial or other protected classes will be pervasive. Actually, selective enforcement will certainly entrap any number of law-abiding citizens who might experience outlandishly improbable circumstances.
Among the 44 pages of over-reaching legalese, if a firearm is used to injure a person, or property, within two years of a gun transfer through sale, gift, or theft where a safety device was defeated by the crook, the owner of the firearm is held “strictly liable” for injuries.
The devious thrust of this language is aimed at discouraging and reducing firearm ownership through fear and financial intimidation. The “strict liability” language purposefully supports unjust and unfair treatment of gun owners because, as defendants, they will be held liable for some future event that is totally unrelated to their actions or intentions for a period of up to two years. Additionally, once the gun is stolen and the owner no longer has control, crimes committed by the criminal impact the level and severity of criminal charges brought against the legal owner of the weapon.
Please follow that logic with care…
Let me illustrate using a vehicle equivalent: if someone steals your car for a joy-ride to the burger joint, your criminal charges would be minor. However, if they used your rig as the get-away car for a bank robbery your criminal charges would be more serious. Lastly, if the car-thieves get into a fatal accident, your criminal charges would pile up like roadside wreckage. So, if an individual follows best practices and locks their car in a well-lighted area, why would the state want to hold them liable for someone else’s criminal activities? Clearly, fewer people would want to own cars under these circumstances.
While it appears that criminal violations are built upon solid circumstances (Sec. 5 - 9), the keystone is actually missing. Namely, the rules and minimum specifications required for trigger locks, cable locks, and tamper-resistant locks on all containers, buildings, rooms and doors which aren’t yet defined. This means that legislators who vote for this bill will have no idea what they are voting for in the way of future requirements. What if the rules require an absurd 1" Stainless Wire Rope EIPS IWRC - 6x37 Class cable? What would gun-owners do?
These rules won’t come from mechanical engineers but they will come from the governor’s chosen one within the Oregon Health Authority, in consultation with State Police.
Keeping history as our guide, let’s roll through some historic episodes and ask ourselves, “Who was in charge, the individual or the state?”
Consider Lenin’s Bolshevik revolution, Stalin's Siberian Gulags, Mao's Great Leap Forward, Pol Pot's Khmer Rouge, Pasha’s Armenian Genocide, or Maduro’s Venezuela?
Far in excess of 100 million people lost their lives and are still suffering intense persecutions. What was the first liberty these regimes took from their targeted populations? Their guns! What did they lose next? Free speech; free association; eventually, their lives.
Did these regimes operate on the consent of the governed? No. Were these citizens able to resist the tyrannies that befell them? No. Could they protect their lives, liberty and property? No.
The blow-back that I typically receive is that these episodes of genocide are so horrific they couldn’t possibly happen here. Well, then, why the effort to disarm law-abiding citizens?
Thousands of Oregonians, from across all party lines – Republicans, Democrats, Independents, Greens and Non-Affiliated Voters – and across all backgrounds have written to me and are outraged at this anti-gun-owner bill.
In closing, President Dwight D. Eisenhower said, “If all that Americans want is security, they can go to prison. They’ll have enough to eat, a bed and a roof over their heads. But if an American wants to preserve his dignity and his equality as a human being, he must not bow his neck to any dictatorial government.”
Remember, if we don't stand for rural-Oregon values and common sense – No one Will!
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