The Oregon Firearms Federation (OFF) has called on state Senate Republicans to walk out in a Hail Mary move to stop Senate Bill 978, a sweeping gun control measure that, according to gun rights advocates, has a lot of problems for Beaver State gun owners.
“Virtually all Democrats support this bill,” OFF says on its website. “There is one tool to stop it. The Senate Republicans have to take a courageous stand, and WALK OUT.”
OFF is getting some high-powered help from the National Rifle Association. In an advisory to its members, NRA said the legislation would “legalize age discrimination for firearm dealers” and “Impose a one-size-fits-all government solution for firearm storage and require them to be made unavailable for self-defense.”
In its own alert to Oregon gun owners, OFF asserted that, if the bill becomes law, honest gun owners could wind up on the wrong side of the law even if they lock up their firearms as mandated. The group also alleges that SB 978 “was created to turn as many of us as possible into criminals.”
That is not an isolated sentiment. Gun owners throughout the Pacific Northwest, facing a raft of what they consider extremist gun control measures are convinced that anti-gun lawmakers in neighboring Washington are pursuing the same thing. Remarkably, while there are 2 to 3 million-plus gun owners living in the Northwest, both states have been turning politically blue, primarily because of the liberal voting blocs in Seattle and Portland, and along the I-5 corridor from Bellingham to Salem.
But anger and frustration are building. A major pro-rights demonstration is planned in Olympia, at the Washington State Capitol on April 27. Billed as the second annual March for Our Rights event, it could attract a couple of thousand gun owners, and they are an unhappy lot. Last year, some 2,500 demonstrators gathered on the capitol steps, and even with a competing weekend gun show in Puyallup, sponsored by the Washington Arms Collectors, there could be a healthy crowd.
When Oregon gun owners descended on the State Capitol in Salem recently, they also had a turnout that surprised some people. OFF has fired up the activism.
Gun ownership is no small issue for Northwest citizens living outside the liberal population centers. A recent check with Oregon authorities revealed more than 272,000 active concealed handgun licenses and Washington’s Department of Licensing reported ten days ago that there are more than 616,000 active concealed pistol licenses north of the Columbia River. Those numbers are expanding.
Oregon’s state constitutional right to bear arms provision is Article 1, Section 27. It reads, “The people shall have the right to bear arms for the defence of themselves, and the State, but the Military shall be kept in strict subordination to the civil power[.]”
Washington’s constitutional provision is Article 1, Section 24. It states, “The right of the individual citizen to bear arms in defense of himself, or the state, shall not be impaired, but nothing in this section shall be construed as authorizing individuals or corporations to organize, maintain or employ an armed body of men.”
One party has been in power in both states for several years. But lawmakers in Salem and Olympia may have finally reached their limit.
Two things must happen in order for that to change. One is gun owner lethargy during elections must disappear. The other is the GOP state organizations must field fire-in-the-belly candidates in whom those same gun owners and conservatives in general can believe; people who will champion issues that get activists away from social media rants long enough to fill out ballots.