The Oregon Legislature approved a single gun-control measure in 2017, and now two of that body’s members hope to undo it. They’re on the right track.
House Republicans Mike Nearman of Independence and Bill Post of Keizer have filed a petition to refer Senate Bill 719 to voters, most likely in November 2018.
The bill, which was signed into law by Gov. Kate Brown on Aug. 16, aims to make it easier to take a deadly weapon away from someone believed to be suicidal. While its aim is surely good, the law itself is too far from perfect to remain on the books.
Perhaps the law’s major flaw is the way it tramples on the rights of the person who would be targeted by the law.
That person need not even be told of the court proceedings until after the fact. Nor does the court appoint someone to represent the person during the hearing, effectively denying the person the right to present an immediate defense against the charges. Later, it’s up to that person to prove to the court that he’s not a suicide risk, in a process that can take months.
That’s enough to throw out the law. It has other potential problems. The judge asked to issue the “extreme risk protection order” to remove the weapons must take evidence and make a decision on the matter the same day or the day after the request is submitted.
Suicide is a very real problem, and efforts to prevent it, including this one, are surely well meant. But in this case, a far narrower approach could have accomplished the bill’s goal and still protected the rights of the potential suicide victim.
Supporters of what’s currently being called “Say No to Senate Bill 719” are not yet ready to gather the signatures needed to place it on the ballot, but when they are, those who support repealing the law should sign it.