Frequently Asked Questions
“Who/what is Lift Every Voice Oregon?”
Lift Every Voice Oregon (LEVO) is a coalition of faith-based communities: Christian, Jewish, Muslim, Buddhist, and other people of good will. Our grassroots organization, run primarily by volunteers, is advocating for safer schools, houses of worship and communities. We now number in the thousands from all over the state in our shared commitment to challenge the status quo as we work towards this important goal. Our voice has been heard by people throughout the state as we push to reduce gun violence in Oregon and the nation.
“What are LEVO’s Goals?”
LEVO has worked through the initiative and the legislative processes with a clear focus on semi-automatic military-style firearms, most often called assault weapons. We believe these weapons belong only on the battlefield, not on streets or in homes for protection. When they are used with large-capacity magazines (defined as holding over 10 rounds), the lethality is increased significantly. Injuries increased by 135% and deaths increased by 57% when these weapons are used in mass shootings. So, our efforts are squarely directed toward curbing the availability and use of these weapons of war.
“How will LEVO’s goals protect Oregonians?”
Assault weapons and large-capacity ammunition magazines are the tools of choice for those who commit mass shootings. Mass shootings are typically defined as an event in which four or more individuals, not counting the shooter, are shot or killed by gunfire. So far in 2019, there have been 265 mass shootings; that is more than one per day. In a study first published in 2013, shortly after the tragic event at Sandy Hook Elementary, it was reported that the astronomical number of guns in America, particularly the number of highly lethal firearms, was the only variable that can explain the high rate of mass shootings in America. The number in the United States per hundred million people far surpassed the number in any other developed country (over 10 million people), except for Yemen. Of course, Yemen had only a fraction of the population in America and it had fewer guns. Moreover, since 2013, Americans have continued to own nearly 45% of the guns in the world even though they are only about 4.4% of the world’s population. LEVO’s goal of reducing the number of these highly lethal weapons will diminish not only the fear and trauma of mass shootings, which are serious injuries in and of themselves, but it will decrease the number of injuries and deaths resulting from them.
“Will people be forced to surrender their guns or their magazines?”
No, though we hope some will decide to no longer own these lethal weapons. While our new initiative is still in the planning phase, LEVO does not intend to propose that current owners be required to relinquish their firearms. As in the 2018 initiative, owners will be required to register the firearms that fall within the definition of semi-automatic, military-style weapons (and pass a current background check) in order to retain them. Similarly, owners will also be able to retain magazines owned at the time the initiative becomes effective, provided they are permanently altered so the magazine cannot accept more than 10 rounds. This is similar to the initiative (Proposition 63) passed in California in 2016. The firearms and magazines may also be sold out of state, permanently disabled, or given to law enforcement for disposal, and we are exploring the addition of a buy back provision. Exceptions for government officials, military personnel, and police officers who use such weapons in the course of their duties will be added.
“Are these changes constitutional?”
Yes! Seven other states (HI, CA, NJ, NY, MD, MA, CT) and the District of Columbia already have similar laws banning assault rifles. In November 2017, the US Supreme Court rejected a challenge to Maryland’s assault weapons ban and left in place a federal appeals court ruling upholding laws that do not permit the sale of similarly defined semi-automatic military-style. Similar restrictions on large-capacity magazines have been upheld as constitutional in nine states (CA, CO, CT, HA, MD, MA, NJ, NY, VT), and the District of Columbia. Challenges to these laws have been upheld by various district and appellate courts, although implementation of the California requirement that ammunition owned prior to the passage of the law must be altered, sold or disposed of, has been stayed, pending review.
“Do Americans support this?”
Yes. A Quinnipiac Poll from February 2018 showed that 67% of Americans support an outright ban on the sale of assault rifles. A more recent poll, conducted by Politico in August 2019, showed 70% of all voters favored a ban on assault weapons and 72% favored banning large-capacity magazines.
“Which firearms are included in the definition of assault weapons?”
LEVO is focused on weapons that have semi-automatic firing capacity; that is, the firearm utilizes a portion of the energy of a firing cartridge to extract the fired cartridge case and chamber the next round and requires a separate, though quite minimal, pull of the trigger to fire each cartridge. Our prior proposed legislation provided a definition of the firearms covered in great detail, listing many models and manufacturers, and included all future variations on these models, with minor differences. In addition, the term “assault weapon” is defined by a detailed description of generic features, so they are easily identified by firearms owners. These definitions are very similar, if not identical, to those used by other states and have been found to provide sufficient notice or information to owners so there is no confusion.
“Will I have time to register my firearm or modify my ammunition?”
Yes. The proposed legislation provided owners with a reasonable time, determined to be 6 months to modify ammunition magazines and a full year from the date of passage to register their assault weapons. The goal is to urge prompt action but give sufficient time to comply.
“When will the initiative be filed?”
LEVO is taking time to review, consult and plan so that the most effective and fair initiative may be filed. We are talking into account the concerns of those who have suffered the travesty of a mass shooting directly, students and teachers who must go through “shooter drills”, gun owners and non-gun owners, and as many others as possible to bring an end to the mass shootings to the greatest extent possible.