Three Petitions Filed With the State’s Elections Division Seek To Increase Restrictions on Semiautomatic Weapons

The petitions were filed by three local religious leaders.

Three Portland-area clerics have filed gun-control petitions with Oregon's Elections Division and are seeking signatures to place measures onto November 2020 ballots.

Backers of the three petitions will ultimately have to gather at least 112,000 signatures this spring to advance the measure to the November ballot.

The triad of petitions were filed Dec. 9 by three local religious figures: Rabbi Michael Cahana, Pastor Walter Knutson, and Reverend Alcena Boozer, who was also a former principal at Jefferson High School.

"I think this is what makes our group unique, it's religious leaders who are taking leadership of this from a variety of religious traditions," says Cahana. "We're united in the sense that what the biblical text teaches is that we can't stand idly by while our neighbor bleeds."

The first petition calls for the regulation of semiautomatic firearms and large-capacity ammunition magazines, encompassing both of the following two petitions that were filed.

The second petition details how the petitioners seek to regulate semiautomatic  firearms by increasing the minimum age of purchase to 21.

"Whereas Oregon currently has more stringent requirements for obtaining a concealed handgun license than a semiautomatic assault firearm and this measure will implement an enhanced safety training course, add a waiting period and require that the background check be successfully completed before a semiautomatic assault firearm is delivered to the purchaser," the petition reads.

The third petition seeks to prohibit the sale of large-capacity ammunition magazines, which enable the weapon handler to shoot of hundreds of bullets without having to reload.

Cahana thinks the petitions will garner support from some gun owners, too.

"We're not taking guns out of people's hands, we're not confiscating them, we're not saying you can't protect yourself or hunt," says Cahana. "we're saying there's a line to be drawn for military-style assault weapons and high-capacity magazines."

The three petitions come alongside a slew of other gun-control measures that are fighting to appear on the 2020 ballot. Among them: Two petitions filed by separate parties last year seek to create a statewide annual class for 6th graders about gun violence.