Six years ago this week, a masked gunman entered Clackamas Town Center and fatally shot himself and two other people with firearms that he stole from a friend's apartment.
On Dec. 11, family members of the victims joined Oregon lawmakers and State of Safety Action, a new Oregon nonprofit advocating for improved gun safety, to back state legislation that would institute storage requirements for firearms.
Named for the victims, the Cindy Yuille and Steve Forsyth Act would enact fines for gun owners who do not properly store firearms, secure firearms during transport, or report lost or stolen guns within 24 hours of discovery. Gun owners who leave their firearms unsecured would also be financially liable for damages resulting from another person using the firearms.
"In the six years since my mom was murdered, we've made incredible progress on this issue in Oregon and around the nation," says Jenna Yuille, State of Safety Action Director and the daughter of Cindy Yuille. But "we still have not passed any laws in Oregon that might actually prevent a shooting like the one that happened at Clackamas Town Center."
Federal law requires that firearms are sold with a safe storage device. But federal law does not require that these storage devices are used.
A majority of school shootings have been carried out using firearms obtained from home or family members.
Firearms are used in the majority of suicides in Oregon and nationwide.
Massachusetts is the only state to require that firearms be stored with a lock at all times. Only California, New York, and Connecticut require that firearms are stored with a lock if the owner lives with someone who is prohibited from owning a firearm, such as convicted felons or individuals with particular mental health status.
Twenty-seven states have laws addressing gun storage in residences where minors reside. In fourteen states, gun owners are criminally liable if they store firearms "negligently."
Oregon is not one of these states.
"Common-sense safety measures such as this bill are the least we can do to address this epidemic of gun violence," says Rep. Barbara Smith Warner (D-Portland), who is chief sponsor of the legislation with Sen. James Manning (D-Eugene).
Smith Warner and Rep. Alissa Keny-Guyer (D-Portland) have co-sponsored safe gun storage and child access bills for the last three legislative sessions, Smith Warner says.
The severity of Oregon's gun control laws vary, with the state ranking second in background checks and 50th in ammunition regulations.
Leaders of State of Safety Action proposed a safe gun storage measure for the November 2018 ballot. But a challenge to the ballot language set organizers back weeks. With only a few weeks to gather the 88,184 signatures needed to appear on the ballot, organizers abandoned the measure.
In September, State of Safety Action released results of a poll examining parent and teacher attitudes about gun violence. More than three quarters of parents and teachers surveyed said that the most effective way to reduce school shootings would be requiring safe gun storage.
"Responsible gun owners always safely secure their weapons when not being used. It is time that all gun owners do that. There have to be consequences for those reckless and careless gun owners who don't secure their firearms when it leads to injury and death of others," says Paul Kemp, the brother-in-law of Steve Forsyth and a long-time gun owner.