This legislative session, Oregon signed the first gun safety bill into law in the last two years after gun sense champion Governor Kate Brown signed SB 554, legislation to allow the state capitol, airports, schools and universities to prohibit firearms in their buildings and require firearms be securely stored when not in use to avoid unintentional shootings and gun suicides.
SB 554 will help prevent armed extremism, unintentional shootings, and gun suicides in Oregon: Armed extremism in democracy is not new for Oregon. During the December 2020 special session, armed extremists descended on the Oregon State Capitol. Security footage shows Rep. Mike Nearman opening the door to let extremists into the building. In January, the Oregon legislature decided to delay the start of session due to threats of violence in Salem. A recent Everytown for Gun Safety report in partnership with the Armed Conflict Location & Event Data Project (ACLED), details that Oregon had the highest number of armed protests between January 2020 and the end of June 2021.
SB 554 will require that firearms be securely stored and locked when not in use: Research shows secure storage legislation can prevent unintentional shootings and gun suicides. Right now, over 80 percent of gun deaths are gun suicides in Oregon. September marks Suicide Prevention Awareness Month. This week, McKay Sohlberg, a volunteer with Oregon Moms Demand Action and a gun violence survivor whose husband died by gun suicide, published an oped talking about the importance of gun suicide prevention in the state and how she works to honor her husband.
From the piece:
September marks Suicide Prevention Awareness Month, which is a time to reflect on how many families are affected by this public health crisis. Research shows that gun suicide claims the lives of more than 23,000 Americans every year, and our country’s gun suicide rate is 10 times that of other high-income countries. In Oregon, 81% of gun deaths are from gun suicides. While people all over the world struggle with depression and suicidal ideation, easy access to guns makes it a uniquely deadly problem in the U.S. Research shows that access to a firearm triples one’s risk of death by suicide.
I observe Suicide Prevention Awareness Month for Olof and the beautiful, full and brilliant life he never got to finish. I work to end the stigma around mental illness for my daughters, who have learned to live with this hole in their hearts even as they celebrate the milestones he should be here for: birthdays, weddings and graduations and recently the birth of a baby who would have been his first grandchild. I commemorate Suicide Prevention Awareness Month for myself, after living in silence and stigma for eight long years before finding a community of survivors to lift me up.
Throughout the session, alongside partners, Moms Demand Action and Students Demand Action volunteers and supporters sent over 8,750 digital actions, including 8,542 emails and 208 calls, to Oregon lawmakers, in addition to numerous tweets, supporting gun safety legislation. The Oregon chapters of Moms Demand Action and Students Demand Action have fought for common-sense gun safety laws in the state for years, yet the last two legislative sessions have ended with Republicans in the legislature walking out and leaving life-saving legislation on the table. SB 554 was passed after being sponsored and championed by three gun sense champions and former Moms Demand Action volunteers, Reps. Rachel Prusak, Dacia Grayber, and Lisa Reynolds and other gun sense champions Rep. Janeen Sollman and Senators Ginny Burdick, James Manning Jr., and Rob Wagner.
Additional information on gun violence in Oregon is available here, and Everytown’s Gun Law Navigator — which shows how Oregon’s gun laws compare to those of other states — is available here.