REMARKS AS PREPARED
Oregonians United to End Gun Violence Announcement
July 15, 2016
Good morning. I am Governor Kate Brown, and I am very pleased to introduce the following individuals who have joined me today:
• Congresswoman Suzanne Bonamici
•Paul Kemp, Gun Owners for Responsible Ownership
• Reverend Dr. T. Allen Bethel, Senior Pastor of Maranatha Church
• Pastor Mark Knuston, Augustana Lutheran Church
• Kay Toran, President and CEO of Volunteers of America of Oregon
• Nancy Haque, Co-Executive of Director of Basic Rights Oregon
• And Rod Underhill, Multnomah County District Attorney
Thank you for standing with me today, united by our determination to take positive action against a negative force that threatens our communities, our quality of life, and our future: Gun violence.
Gun violence is terrorizing America, tearing apart the very fabric of our communities and our families.
It seems we hardly go more than a few days or weeks without hearing of another tragic gun-related death.
In Oregon, we bear witness to the gun violence in America every single day.
Since I was sworn in as Governor sixteen months ago, more than 600 Oregonians have died from violence inflicted with a gun, more than 100 of those due to homicidal violence.
600 of us.
I had the sad honor of representing our citizens at a memorial service for Seaside Police Department Sergeant Jason Goodding, murdered by a felon who had obtained a firearm.
I have met with some of the families of the UCC Nine – nine people 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.
We also understand that we face more than an epidemic of gun violence.
The recent shootings of two black men— Alton Sterling and Philando Castile — again expose a sense of deep anger and mistrust about the justice system in the United States. In Portland and across the nation, thousands took to the streets and social media to peacefully proclaim “Black Lives Matter.”
As they did, a lone gunman armed with a military-style assault rifle opened fire on the streets of Dallas. We were all horrified and heartbroken by the senseless killing of five respected and beloved Dallas Police Officers.
At the memorial service for the fallen Dallas officers, President Obama offered this reminder:
"If we’re to sustain the unity we need to get through these difficult times, if we are to honor these five outstanding officers who we’ve lost, then we will need to act on the truths that we know,” he said.
What I know is violence answers nothing, offers nothing, solves nothing.
It robs us of our humanity, turning us against one another promising only more pain, more loss. Instead of reaching for weapons, we must reach for answers.
If we want to end violence, we must fight ignorance and desperation. We must instill hope and create opportunity. We must work together to defend justice and achieve equality.
As your Governor, I call on each of us, as Oregonians and as Americans, to end gun violence now.
I call on the state legislature to pass three new laws to improve gun safety in Oregon in three ways:
I am developing legislation for the 2017 session to close what has been dubbed “the Charleston Loophole.”
Current law gives the Oregon State Police three days to complete background checks. If the state police cannot complete it in that narrow window, they must allow the gun purchase to go through.
By closing the Charleston Loophole, we make sure individuals who should not own a gun are not able to obtain one simply because authorities were unable to complete the background check within the current timelines.
I will also propose legislation to close the so-called “Boyfriend Loophole”— to expand the types of relationships that qualify as “domestic violence” so people convicted of certain crimes of domestic violence no longer have access to firearms.
In 2014, there were fifty-six victims of domestic violence reported in Oregon. Seventy-percent of those victims — thirty-nine people — were women. Forty-five percent of all victims — men or women — died from gunshots.
A majority of the victims (fifty-eight percent) were killed by current or former intimate partners, including spouses.
Additionally, this legislation proposes to outlaw future purchases of extended capacity magazines. When a man intent on killing as many people as he could entered the Pulse Nightclub in Orlando, he did so with extended capacity magazines.
Those magazines allowed him to fire his weapon repeatedly without stopping to reload, without any pause that might have given his victims or law enforcement a chance to stop him.
Second, I am taking immediate action and will use my executive authority to strengthen existing Oregon law.
My executive order directs the Oregon State Police to retain, for law enforcement purposes only, firearm transactions for the full five years it is statutorily authorized to do. Additionally, I am directing Oregon State Police to proactively notify local law enforcement if a person prohibited by law from buying a gun tries to buy one.
These steps will greatly assist local, state, and federal law enforcement agencies in determining where firearms used in crimes have come from. If there are “bad apple” gun dealers, this data and will help the police find them, can be used in the prosecuting of illegal firearm deals, and will help keep guns from falling into the wrong hands.
And third, we need more information and data.
By executive order, I direct the Oregon Health Authority to issue annual gun death reports and make policy recommendations, to work with entities studying gun deaths, and to identify data gaps and how to close those gaps.
I am also creating a work group to report back to me on Domestic Violence cases, specifically to review the existing counties' gun relinquishment protocols and to make recommendations on a statewide policy to enhance the safety of domestic violence survivors.
Lastly, I call on Congress to act.
First and foremost, Congress must to take action to do as Oregon has done: close gaps in the background check process to keep guns out of the wrong hands, and ban destructive and dangerous assault weapons.
Assault weapons are, without question, the weapon of choice for those intent on causing a great deal of harm to a large number of people—from last week’s assault on police in Dallas, to last month’s attack on a club in Orlando, and last year’s shooting in Roseburg.
Congress must also pass the “No Fly, No Buy” anti-terrorist legislation. Anyone not eligible, for security reasons, to fly on an airplane should be able to buy a firearm in this country.
I offer Oregon’s Congressional delegation the assistance and power of my office in passing these critical initiatives.
These three steps – urging Congress to ban assault weapons and strengthen anti-terrorist legislation; using my executive authority to strengthen state law enforcement efforts, and championing four important changes to state law, are critical to stepping up gun safety in Oregon.
I look forward to working with the Legislature to close these dangerous loopholes, keep guns away from dangerous people, and hold wrongdoers accountable.