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Oregon Initiative Introduced to Ban Assault Weapons

An initiative to ban the sale of semi-automatic weapons in Oregon needs 88,000 signatures by July 6 to qualify for the November ballot. (George Frey/Getty Images)
An initiative to ban the sale of semi-automatic weapons in Oregon needs 88,000 signatures by July 6 to qualify for the November ballot. (George Frey/Getty Images)
March 26, 2018

SALEM, Ore. – A group of religious leaders has introduced an initiative that would ban semiautomatic weapons and high-capacity magazines in Oregon.

Initiative Petition 43 seeks to outlaw the sale of these weapons and require current owners to undergo background checkouts and register their guns.

Rabbi Michael Cahana, one of the chief petitioners of this measure, says there's momentum to act on gun violence after the shooting in Parkland. He says it's important that religious leaders are spearheading this proposal.

"We felt that it was really time to, instead of just offering prayers, take action and to speak with a religious voice, to speak with a moral authority that our religions, our diverse religions call out to us, to protect life," he explains.

The group behind this initiative, along with Oregon students, plan to deliver signatures collected at the March For Our Lives to Salem today so it can start the ballot title drafting process. After that, they'll need 88,000 signatures by July 6 to qualify for the November ballot.

Opponents say the initiative goes too far and is unconstitutional. Oregon state lawmakers say if it passes, it won't survive in the courts.

However, Cahana says the initiative is modeled after similar laws in states such as Connecticut, which have survived challenges in court.

Pastor Mark Knutson of Augustana Lutheran Church is another chief petitioner of the initiative. He says Oregon should do this for the safety of its children.

"We're not against anybody," he says. "We just don't want weapons of war being available and we don't want our children to be anxious when they go to a movie or go to school. And that's incumbent upon every adult in Oregon to come alongside these young leaders - not to empower them. They're already very powerful. But to walk alongside and make this happen."

The petition includes exceptions for the military, law enforcement and licensed firearms dealers.

Eric Tegethoff, Public News Service - OR