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Faith Guides Push for OR 2020 Gun-Control Initiatives

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Three initiatives awaiting review in Oregon would put certain restrictions on the sale of semi-automatic firearms, including raising the purchase age to 21. (ARTFULLY-79/Adobe Stock)
Three initiatives awaiting review in Oregon would put certain restrictions on the sale of semi-automatic firearms, including raising the purchase age to 21. (ARTFULLY-79/Adobe Stock)
January 3, 2020

PORTLAND, Ore. - Some faith leaders want 2020 to be the year Oregon passes what they see as better gun-control laws.

The group Lift Every Voice Oregon, made up of leaders from different faiths, has submitted three petitions for measures to appear on the November 2020 ballot. The measures would restrict the sale of semi-automatic firearms through tightened background checks, raise the minimum purchase age from 18 to 21 and ban the sale of high-capacity ammunition magazines.

One of the chief petitioners, Rabbi Michael Cahana, says faith leaders see addressing gun violence as a "moral imperative."

"In our faith traditions, we are told that we can't stand idly by while our neighbor bleeds," says Cahana. "[It] means that we have to take responsibility when there is a crisis, as there is in gun violence in our country."

Faith leaders, including Cahana, tried to get a similar measure restricting semi-automatic weapon sales on the ballot in 2018 in the wake of shooting at a Parkland, Florida, high school. However, that effort ran into legal issues.

If the state approves this year's initiatives, backers will need to gather at least 112,000 signatures this spring to get them onto the ballot.

Cahana says he's heard support from gun owners for these measures, believing they are a sensible way to keep people safe.

"We are not trying to tell people that they can't protect themselves. We're not trying to tell people that they can't hunt," says Cahana. "We're simply saying there are some weapons that are really weapons of war, that don't belong on our streets and in our homes."

These petitions are just a few of the potential measures addressing firearms in 2020. Others pending review would establish gun storage laws, require an annual firearm-safety class for Oregon sixth-graders and create a constitutional right to own semi-automatic weapons.

Eric Tegethoff, Public News Service - OR