This bill requires the owner or possessor of a firearm to secure the firearm with a trigger or cable lock or in a locked container when transferring the firearm and at all other times that the firearm is not carried by or “under the control” of the owner, requires reporting of theft, assuming liability for others’ use of stolen firearms for two years unless the theft is by someone unlawfully in the dwelling, and liability for minor’s unintended possession of firearm or failure to supervise a minor after transferring a firearm to them. Exceptions for target shooting and hunting are included.
Personal Choice and Responsibility
“Control” has been expanded to mean that the firearm is in a residence occupied only by adults authorized by the firearm’s owner to have access to it and that all doors and windows are closed and locked. Responsible gun ownership is important, including making sure guns don’t fall into the wrong hands, and this bill is well intentioned. But several things are wrong with this bill: 1. Assuming liability for the actions of others: if an owner transfers a firearm and does not include an approved lock, or does not secure it per the requirements defined by the Oregon Health Authority and it is taken by someone lawfully in the dwelling, or the firearm is lost or stolen and the owner does not report the loss or theft within 72 hours, this bill says they are strictly liable for any injury caused by the new owner or thief, for two years. Liability for the actions of another adult would never hold up in court. 2. This bill could be enacted into law as soon as February 2021 (it of course has an “emergency” clause that sets it to take effect on passage), but the Oregon Health Authority is not required to define what acceptable lock mechanisms are before January 1, 2022. There could therefore be a period of time when this is law and it IS IMPOSSIBLE TO OBEY. This is the 3rd or 4th year this bill has been introduced. Why is there still no definition? 3. If someone stole your firearm with a cable lock and cut it off and used the gun in a crime, how would you be able to prove that you had a cable lock on it? And how would the state be able to prove that you didn’t? This is unenforceable.
There are many existing laws that can be used to hold negligent persons accountable. For example, the tragedy in Baker County where a 2 year old toddler gained access to a firearm and fatally shot himself resulted in criminal charges against the parents. It turned out the parents could not even legally possess firearms, so they would not likely have followed this law either. We believe this would be another law which only impacts the law abiding. Section 8 requires gun dealers to post warnings about legal requirements for gun storage. Certain products contain warning labels but in what other industry do we require resellers to post signs? This is overreach.
Multnomah County already has a law like this, but the District Attorney decided not to use it to charge the father and brother of the Reynolds High School shooter who had taken their firearms, which were supposedly secured, without their permission. What good are more laws if they are only enforced selectively?
Firearm sales, service and storage facilities can be considered secure if they meet definitions in the bill, thus making it unnecessary to trigger lock each individual firearm.