One of the nation’s “defund the police” and surging violent crime epicenters could see big changes on election day.
Oregonians will soon cast their ballots and they are showing signs they may reject a severe gun control ballot initiative, as well as elect the first pro-Second Amendment governor in more than forty years.
The visuals were common and often on national news. Portland was a hotbed of violence, looting and riots in 2020 in the wake of the murder of George Floyd and the rise of defund the police movement. Broken windows and vandalism were commonplace. Riots and destruction culminated with an attack on the downtown federal courthouse. Rioters used Molotov cocktails to set fire to the building.
It’s no surprise that soft-on-criminal policies meant residents were left fearing for their safety. It’s been the same story all across the country. In Portland, numerous businesses decided it was far too unsafe to continue to keep their doors open and closed up shop.
The situation was so bad the co-president of the Portland Downtown Development Group sent a letter to Portland Democratic and antigun Mayor Ted Wheeler and City Council members, criticizing the city’s policies. “The exodus of companies… does have most everything to do with the lawlessness you are endorsing downtown,” the letter stated, adding “It’s like nothing I have seen in 42 years of doing business in downtown.”
Portland was the focal point, but those feelings resonated across the state. Now a new effort by gun control groups means law-abiding Oregonians could face even more restrictions on their ability to protect themselves and businesses with a firearm, not more freedoms.
Top of the Ticket
Oregon’s Democratic Gov. Kate Brown was proclaimed a “gunsense” candidate by Everytown for Gun Safety and endorsed by Oregon Moms Demand Action. She signed more gun control laws last year but is term-limited, opening the race. Voters are considering a different direction.
Oregon state Rep. Christine Drazan is the Republican candidate, the minority leader in the state house and her belief in the Second Amendment is quite the opposite from Gov. Brown’s.
There’s also Independent candidate state Rep. Betsy Johnson. She’s bucked her Democratic colleagues to vote against universal background checks for private firearm transfers and “red flag” laws that didn’t include Due Process rights protections. Compared to Democratic challenger Oregon House Speaker Tina Kotek, the differences are stark.
Rep. Drazan told voters, “Oregon already has among the most stringent gun control laws in the nation on the books. As Governor, I will veto any bill that compromises Oregonians’ Second Amendment rights, including the right to defend themselves and their family.”
Rep. Drazan has a pro-Second Amendment record. She’s a gunowner and voted against a flawed mandatory firearm storage proposal in 2021 that also made it a crime for lawful conceal carry permit holders to possess their firearm in the state capitol or on certain sensitive locations. In 2019, Rep. Drazan also voted against a “red flag” bill that denied accused Oregonians of their Due Process rights.
At a recent gubernatorial debate, gun control was a topic as Bend, Oregon, was the site of a tragic shooting incident. Minority Leader Drazan explained, “What happened in Bend was an absolute tragedy. Someone facing extreme mental health challenges was intent on hurting others and was effectively able to do so…but more gun laws will not prevent every single tragedy from happening.”
What does it mean for Rep. Drazan heading to Election Day? Voters have currently made her the frontrunner in the race, according to polling.
Gun Control Ballot Measure
Voters will also decide whether to approve a gun control ballot initiative, IP 17. If enacted, the measure would require law-abiding Oregonians to first receive a permit-to-purchase a firearm. Those requirements include paying additional fees, completing an expanded background check, classroom training and more and the permit would be valid for five years. The ballot initiative also would implement restrictions on magazine capacity to 10 rounds or fewer.
NSSF is a member of the coalition to vote down this proposal.
As crime remains one of the top issues on voters’ minds heading to Nov. 8, generic Republican candidates hold a 14-point advantage over generic Democrats. Those sentiments seem to be present in Oregon as voters began to early vote and IP 17’s fate not a foregone conclusion.
As issues of crime and the ability of law-abiding voters to protect themselves from criminals remain prominent, Oregonians could be poised to #GUNVOTE on Election Day so they don’t risk their rights.
Larry Keane is SVP for Government and Public Affairs, Assistant Secretary and General Counsel of the National Shooting Sports Foundation.