The measure that would tighten Oregon’s gun laws was leading by a narrow margin on Wednesday morning, according to early returns. With votes continuing to be counted in several Oregon counties, including some of the most populous, proponents are hoping their lead will grow.
“There’s more work to be done, but right now, we are going to celebrate with so much joy in our hearts, knowing that brighter and better days are ahead,” Mark Knutson, pastor of Augustana Lutheran Church in Portland and chair of Lift Every Voice Oregon, which put the measure on the ballot, said in a statement released at 11 a.m. Wednesday morning. “I am so proud of everyone that made this historic victory possible.”
Chief petitioner Marilyn Keller, who sang the campaign’s signature hymn at the group’s watch part last night, added: “The Measure 114 campaign proved that in Oregon people do have the power to make change.”
If the current vote counts hold, Measure 114 will create a permit-to-purchase system and ban magazines that hold more than 10 rounds of ammunition.
Those rules would move Oregon from the middle of the pack to among the states with tighter gun laws.
Gun deaths have been rising in Oregon. Nearly 600 people died by gun in 2020 — 77% of them by suicide.
This voter-initiated ballot measure gained steam in the days and weeks after the mass shootings in Buffalo and Uvalde in May. From an anemic start, the signature gathering campaign multiplied rapidly over the next two months, culminating with well more than the required number of signatures to make the ballot.
Created by a small group of faith-based activists, the measure has been criticized for being poorly thought out and likely to create a boondoggle of a new state-run program. Critics also worry about costs — both for gun buyers, who will now have to pay additional fees for a new background check, a gun safety course and the permit itself and to the local law enforcement agencies that will administer the program.
About a third to half of Oregonians own guns. Some gun owners who have spoken to OPB are opposed in principle to any measure tightening gun laws. However, recent polling data shows that Americans overall and Oregonians in particular are open to tightening gun regulations. Some who own guns but supported Measure 114 told OPB they were willing to put up with rules making it harder to buy a gun quickly if the change meant saving lives.
Others saw Measure 114 as an attempt to stop gun sales in the near term and ultimately take gun access away from law-abiding citizens.
If the measure does pass, the Oregon State Police will take up the rulemaking process to create the state’s new permitting system.
High capacity magazines would no longer be available for purchase 30 days after the effective date of the measure. And they would be fully banned from being bought, sold or made in the state — including by gun dealers and manufacturers — with a few exceptions as of next spring, or 180 days after the new law goes into effect. Those who already own a high capacity magazine could keep them, but only use them on private property or on a firing range.
If the measure does not pass, Oregon’s gun laws will not change. Anyone 18 or older willing to submit to a background check and not prohibited from owning a firearm under federal or state law will be able to buy a gun.
This is a developing story. Watch for updates.
Correction: This story has been updated to reflect that the 180-day window provided in the measure for gun dealers to accept magazines turned in by current owners and transfer, alter or destroy their existing stock does not allow for magazines to be bought by individuals for that entire time frame.