IP 43 supporters throw in the towel on 2018 measure
PORTLAND — Supporters of an initiative petition to ban certain firearms in Oregon say they'll withdraw the initiative, but maintain efforts to restrict firearm possession in the state.
Initiative Petition 43, an effort to ban certain types of semiautomatic firearms and magazines holding more than 10 rounds, was proposed by a coalition of faith leaders in the wake of the shooting that killed 17 people at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla., on Feb. 14.
Supporters were enthusiastic, but encountered legal opposition to their efforts when gun rights advocates filed challenges at the Oregon Supreme Court against the language used to describe the measure.
Opponents said the petition language didn't adequately describe the types of firearms banned by the measure or the extent of its proposed registration requirements.
The measure would have required people who already own the firearms specified to register them with state police if they wish to keep them legally. Going forward, Oregonians wouldn't be able to buy those guns, and could only legally obtain them by way of inheritance.
Supporters may propose another petition, or multiple petitions, in 2020, says chief petitioner Rev. W.J. Mark Knutson.
Knutson and other supporters say they made progress in the months since the initiative was first proposed.
"Every appeal process was used against us, a lot of money was used against us," Knutson said. "We have no apologies for our process. We heard the voices of the young and we moved right in."
Supporters were already contending with a tight turnaround time to get enough signatures by July 6 to make it to the November ballot. They needed 88,184.
That timeline became more daunting after multiple legal challenges were filed to the ballot title language, and on Wednesday, when the Oregon Supreme Court said that the ballot title needed significant changes before the petition could be circulated.
At best, that gave petitioners one day to gather the signatures they needed to qualify for the ballot, since the Attorney General needed time to change the ballot title and for a public comment period.
Supporters of another gun control initiative petition, IP 44, which would have imposed new storage requirements on gun owners, withdrew the petition last week due to time constraints and said they'd lobby for those changes in the 2019 session and try to get on the ballot in 2020.
Secretary of State Dennis Richardson advocated for changes that would allow supporters of a petition to gather signatures after a ballot title has been approved for a petition, but before any legal challenges have been resolved.
He took the opportunity Thursday to tout his efforts to reduce barriers to petition circulation.
"Whether I agree or not with a particular cause, I strongly believe Oregonians should have the right to petition their government without the deck stacked against them," Richardson said in a statement. "I urge the Legislature to adopt the grassroots petition protections that I have consistently advocated."