Media Room

SB 797 and 868 Testimony
April 17, 2017
 
REMARKS AS PREPARED
 
Senator Prozanski, and members of the committee, thank you for the opportunity to speak to you today about Senate Bills 797 and 868.
 
These bills focus on ensuring that people who should not have guns because of prior convictions, a violent past, or in instances of extreme mental crisis do not have easy access to firearms.
 
Gun violence devastates families and households throughout Oregon, tearing apart the very fabric of our communities.
 
I have met with some of the families of the UCC Nine – nine Oregonians shot and killed when a student walked into a classroom at Umpqua Community College and began firing. I will never forget that day. And I vowed to do whatever I could to make sure it never happens again.
 
While we vividly remember tragic events like those at UCC and the Clackamas Town Center, all too commonly, gun violence is also perpetrated behind closed doors. 
 
The deadly combination of guns and domestic violence is well-documented.  The very presence of a firearm in a domestic violence situation makes it five times more likely that a woman will be shot and killed. 
 
And though the majority of these horrific tragedies happen behind closed doors, the tragedy in San Bernardino the other week, when a shooter gunned down his wife at a school, injuring and killing two young students, shows that a domestic abuser with access to a firearm poses a broader threat to public safety, as well.
 
And today, a Gresham mother and family is grieving the loss of 8-year-old Janet and 11-year-old Jasmine Duran-Cortinas, who were kidnapped, shot, and killed by their father, who had a record of domestic abuse.
 
I cannot imagine the heartache the family is going through. I extend my sincere condolences.
 
This is absolutely unacceptable. In Oregon, we can do better. Violence answers nothing, offers nothing, solves nothing.
 
We also know even if the trigger is never pulled in domestic violence situations, abusers use guns to threaten and control their partners. In all, close to ten women each week are shot to death by their husbands, boyfriends, or former dating partners.
 
This must stop. Instead of reaching for weapons, we must reach for answers.
 
Senate Bill 797 is just that. It is a common-sense, life-saving bill that will help protect Oregon’s women and children by closing the “Boyfriend Loophole,” preventing convicted stalkers from buying or possessing guns, and keeping guns out of the wrong hands by closing the “Charleston Loophole.”
 
The bill also makes technical changes to allow better enforcement of our existing background check system. This makes sure law enforcement officials are aware when criminals try and fail to buy guns illegally. We must ensure that the right information is making it into our systems from a court order to the State Police. 
 
I want to thank Senators Burdick and Boquist for their bi-partisan approach to the Extreme Risk Protection Order codified in Senate Bill 868.  Requiring an expedited judicial hearing is the best way to ensure that a person who is at risk of harming themselves or others is identified, while still ensuring their rights are protected by a court review.
 
Persons in crisis should not have easy access to firearms. This bill is another tool in the fight against gun violence and suicide prevention that will make Oregon a safer place to live.
 
I also appreciate leadership of Majority Leader Jennifer Williamson and Senator Floyd Prozanski.
 
Thanks to the determined commitment of this Legislature to keep Oregonians safe, as well as the collective advocacy of local organizers, outspoken survivors, and the law enforcement community, we can take decisive steps toward keeping guns out of the wrong hands.
 
I, and Oregonians throughout the state, urge you to pass Senate Bill 797 and 868.