Faith-inspired gun measure will need to wait

Ed Langlois, Of the Catholic Sentinel   August 6, 2018

Backers of a proposed Oregon ballot measure to outlaw sales of assault weapons and high-capacity magazines have been forced to wait for a later election or move to persuading lawmakers. 

The Oregon Supreme Court on June 27 rejected the ballot language as too vague and sent it back to Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum. That left advocates with too little time to collect the needed 88,000 valid signatures by July 6. 

In addition to banning sales, the measure would have required current owners to register the guns within 120 days or face felony charges.

“It’s a very fair approach to allow weapons for personal safety and weapons for sports and at the same time keep our kids safe,” said Lynette Pierson, a member of Our Lady of the Lake Parish who is promoting the measure. “It goes right to our Catholic principles, the call to the common good. Our faith demands that we promote peace in a world of conflict.”

The Oregon Catholic Conference, public policy arm of the Archdiocese of Portland and the Diocese of Baker, did not take a position on the proposed measure but may reconsider if it qualifies for a later ballot or appears as a bill in the Oregon Legislature.

“There is no reason to have an assault rifle,” said Todd Cooper, director of the conference. “At the same time, the measure can be seen as a slippery slope.” Cooper said the conference must take into account the needs of Catholics across the state, including those in rural areas who are wary of gun control.

June 28, 2018

To our Lift Every Voice Oregon IP 43 supporters that now number in the thousands all around the state of Oregon:

Click here to watch the June 28 press conference

In just over three months we have assembled a grass roots volunteer organization that political experts and pundits are saying has never been done like this before in Oregon. Many said our effort was impossible. Now they are saying our movement will change the landscape of Oregon for the common good in ways no one could imagine.

Two days ago, we were poised to collect 120,000 signatures by next week to place IP 43 on the November 6 General Election Ballot, to ban the sale of assault weapons and large capacity magazines. We were organized statewide and ready to make history. This effort began because the voices of our young leaders in this nation were saying enough is enough.

As you know, on Wednesday, June 27, the Oregon Supreme Court sent the Ballot Title back to the Attorney General’s Office for further clarification after numerous challenges by the opposition. The new title could have taken up to July 5 to be released, which makes it impossible for us to move forward with signature gathering to submit 88,184 valid signatures by July 6.

However, this is just a timeout at the beginning of the contest. The work for our children’s future without the fear of gun violence has just begun. Now the movement for the safety and well-being of our children and youth moves into high gear. We will be refueling for 2020 to put pressure on the 2019 Legislature to be bold and courageous and to get it done in 2019. It doesn’t matter who does it, just that we do it now.

We are building capacity every day and no one is deterred and the muscle for change is growing every day in the Lift Every Voice Campaign. So recruit your friends; give of your time, talents and treasures; and let’s keep building this movement that will not only change Oregon but will transform this nation. Let's all work for the day when gun violence will be a distant memory and our students can learn and our teachers can teach.

Let’s Lift Every Voice and make this happen now.

Let’s lift Every Voice and be courageous and bold for our children’s sake.

Let’s Lift Every Voice and march on ‘til victory is won!

God’s blessings and peace,

Rev. W. J. Mark Knutson

Oregonian: Oregon 'assault weapons' ban won't be on the ballot this year, supporters look to 2020

By Hillary Borrud, The Oregonian/OregonLive     June 28, 2018

Oregon voters won't decide whether to ban the sale of certain semiautomatic guns and large capacity magazines in November after all.

Supporters of an initiative that would have prohibited the sale and manufacture of such weapons in Oregon conceded on Thursday that they had run out of time to gather signatures by the July 6 deadline. Gun rights and hunting groups had appealed the ballot title, and the state Supreme Court ordered changes.

Under Initiative Petition 43, Oregonians who wanted to keep their existing affected firearms would have been required to pass a criminal background check and register with the state.

Portland-area clergy led the effort, and on Thursday morning, Pastor W. J. Mark Knutson of Augustana Lutheran Church said the "Lift Every Voice" campaign will instead set its sights on the 2020 ballot.

"Our lightning speed as a team was just too fast for our opponents," Knutson said during a news conference. "They started flopping all over the field with every legal maneuver they could imagine. Oh, they are exhausted by the rightness of our cause. And we are just getting going."

Knutson said members of the campaign hope to qualify at least one gun control initiative for the 2020 election, to put pressure on lawmakers to pass similar legislation when the 2019 legislative session begins in January.

OPB: Oregon Gun-Control Proposal Might Be Out Of Time To Make Ballot

by Dirk VanderHart  OPB June 27, 2018

The lone gun-control measure vying for the November ballot has likely run out of time.

The Oregon Supreme Court Wednesday announced it would not certify ballot language for Initiative Petition 43, a proposed ban on military-style semi-automatic weapons in Oregon. Instead, the court referred draft ballot language back to Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum for revision, finding substantial flaws in her office’s last attempt.

It’s likely the final straw for the faith-backed Lift Every Voice coalition, which had been counting on a network of hundreds of volunteers across the state to collect more than 88,000 valid signatures in a week or less. The deadline for submitting signatures is July 6.

Without certified ballot language, the campaign can’t begin collecting signatures. And with the matter back before the Attorney General’s office, it’s unclear an adequate title could even be crafted by July 6.

“That’s not what we wanted by any means,” said Rev. Mark Knutson, one of the chief petitioners behind the initiative, when OPB informed him of the ruling Wednesday morning. “We really wanted it now for our children’s sake.”

Oregonian: Oregon Supreme Court orders changes to ballot title for initiative to ban 'assault weapons'

By Hillary Borrud, The Oregonian/OregonLive   June 27, 2018

The Oregon Supreme Court ordered changes Wednesday to the ballot title of an initiative that would ban the sale of many semiautomatic guns and high-capacity ammunition magazines in the state. 

It's a setback for the Portland-area clergy behind Initiative Petition 43, who have just over a week to gather the 88,184 signatures necessary to get it on the November ballot. The signature deadline is July 6, and they cannot begin gathering signatures until the ballot title is finalized.

In an opinion issued Wednesday morning, the court said Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum must revise the summary of the initiative that would be put before voters in November. 

Fox 12: Oregon Supreme Court says title of proposed gun control ballot must be re-written

Reporter Johnathan Hendricks     June 27, 2018


A gun control measure in Oregon that backers were hoping will end up on the November ballot was hit with a pretty big hurdle on Wednesday. The Oregon Supreme Court ruled the title for proposed ballot measure 43 needs to be re-written.

The NRA and Oregon Hunters Association challenged the measure's title arguing terms like assault weapons and high capacity magazines would mean different things to different voters.

"As described above, petitioners argue that, if a commonly understood meaning of “assault weapons” exists, it refers to military-style weapons, not semiautomatic weapons with the types of features described in IP 43 (many of which, they contend, are “standard”). We cannot say whether that is so, but we do agree (as does the Attorney General) that different voters reasonably could draw different meanings from the term “assault weapons” some might think that it refers to only military-style weapons; some might think that it refers to the types of weapons that are described in IP 43; and some might think that it refers to an even more broad group of weapons," the courts brief reads.

AP: Court delay blocks second Oregon gun measure

By TOM JAMES     Jun. 27, 2018

SALEM, Ore. (AP) — The Oregon Supreme Court has temporarily blocked an initiative that would ban the sale of some semi-automatic guns and high-capacity magazines just over a week before a key deadline, likely stopping it from making the November ballot.

Earlier arguments over Initiative Petition 43 had been fast-tracked. But Wednesday’s ruling triggered a statutory timeline that leaves at most one day for supporters to gather more than 88,000 signatures, and sets it up to become the second prominent gun control proposal to fail after court delays in the state this year.

OPB: With Court Ruling Expected, Oregon Gun Ban Advocates Will Try To Make History

by Dirk VanderHart  June 26, 2018

With the window for submitting signatures closing fast, backers of a ban on semi-automatic, military-style weapons in Oregon might finally win permission to begin petitioning voters this week.

The Oregon Supreme Court has announced plans to issue an opinion Wednesday on final ballot language for Initiative Petition 43. That’s one of the final hurdles faith-based backers of the petition face before they begin a frantic push to collect more than 88,000 signatures by July 6.

“We are ready,” the Rev. Mark Knutson, one of the chief petitioners behind the ban, said Tuesday. “We have well over 1,000 people who’ve trained, there’s another 800 who’ve accessed our training.”

June 22, 2018

Portland Association of Teachers Endorses IP43

"The Portland Association of Teachers supports IP43 because fear has no place in our schools. Our students have spoken- they know that this problem can be solved. America is the only country where mass-shootings are commonplace.  Educators practice for these events with their students by barricading doors and hiding in closets. Mass murder in our schools is not a predetermined outcome that we must be prepared for — it is a consequence of decisions made by our elected leaders. Wneed legislation that we know will have an effect, like banning assault weapons. "

June 21, 2018

IP 44 On Hold but IP 43 Moving Full Steam Ahead!

The campaign to ban the sale of assault weapons in Oregon is moving full steam ahead! As IP43 awaits a decision from the Oregon Supreme Court, we are training hundreds of signature gathers who will be ready to roll as soon as we get the signal.

A recent decision by backers of IP44, a separate gun storage proposal, to put their campaign on hold is disappointing but does not deter us from our goal. We welcome supporters of IP44 to join us in making Oregon a safer place for everyone.

It will take all of us working together to get IP43 on the November ballot. To get updates and find out how you can help, visit

AP: Frustrated AMA adopts sweeping policies to cut gun violence

LINDSEY TANNER, Associated Press June 12, 2018

CHICAGO (AP) — With frustration mounting over lawmakers' inaction on gun control, the American Medical Association on Tuesday pressed for a ban on assault weapons and came out against arming teachers as a way to fight what it calls a public health crisis.

At its annual policymaking meeting, the nation's largest physicians group bowed to unprecedented demands from doctor-members to take a stronger stand on gun violence — a problem the organizations says is as menacing as a lethal infectious disease.

Oregonian: Oregon Supreme Court decision could help gun control initiative

Posted June 08, 2018 | Updated June 11, 2018

By Hillary Borrud, The Oregonian/OregonLive

An Oregon Supreme Court decision on Friday could fast-track efforts to get a gun-control initiative on the ballot.

The Portland-area clergy backing the effort to ban the sale of many semiautomatic weapons and high-capacity magazines had worried that the state’s ballot title appeals process would leave them with little time to qualify for the November election.

Opponents of the proposal known as Initiative Petition 43 had appealed to the Supreme Court to modify the ballot title, saying the use of such terms as "assault weapons" and "large capacity magazines” is misleading.

But on Friday, the Supreme Court denied their requests for oral arguments – a decision that will likely speed up the court’s review of the ballot title. The court must sign off on the official ballot title before backers can begin gathering signatures.

OPB: Oregon Initiative To Curb Semi-Automatic Guns Can Still Qualify For Ballot, Backers Say

by Jeff Mapes; June 8, 2018

Sponsors of a controversial initiative to ban the sale of many semi-automatic weapons in Oregon are still hoping to qualify for the ballot even though they will at best have only two weeks to gather signatures.

“If we get the go, we’re prepared to get 120,000 signatures in 10 days or less,” said Mark Knutson, a Lutheran pastor from Portland and a chief sponsor of the initiative.

June 8, 2018

Big News!

Wow. Just wow!  We have big news to share: The state Supreme Court just announced they will speed up the process to review the NRA's legal challenge to our ballot measure.

We are pleased that the Court decided on its own to move this matter forward in an expeditious manner, as the rules contemplate.

We are now closer to having a chance for signature gatherers to hit the streets for signatures as soon as the ballot title is certified,  so this life-saving initiative regulating assault weapons will be on the November ballot.

AP: Oregon Supreme Court expedites gun-control dispute

By ANDREW SELSKY     Jun. 08, 2018

SALEM, Ore. (AP) — Oregon’s Supreme Court set tight deadlines Friday in a dispute that has stalled a proposed ballot measure to restrict assault weapons and large-capacity magazines in the state. 

The court denied all requests for oral arguments and directed the attorney general to file by June 18 a single response to five petitions to the court from gun-rights activists. And it told the five petitioners to reply by June 21.

Backers of the statewide Initiative Petition 43 have until July 6 to gather 88,000 verified signatures from voters to put their measure on the November ballot. They can’t start gathering the signatures before the court rules on the arguments by opponents who say the ballot language is misleading.

There’s no deadline for the court to issue its decision, but Friday’s order accelerates the process while still giving the parties the opportunity to submit their arguments to the court, said Phil Lemman of the Oregon Judicial Department.

June 7, 2018

Lift Every Voice Oregon IP 43 Statement

From Rev. W. J. Mark Knutson, Senior Pastor Augustana Lutheran Church, Lift Every Voice Campaign Chair and Chief Petitioner

“Amidst a crisis in gun violence in America and the cry of our young leaders that enough is enough, Initiative Petition 43 is intended to keep our schools and communities safe. This is one of the great moral issues of our day regarding the well-being of our children and the sanctity of human life shared by our great faith traditions, the people of Oregon and the people of the United States of America. It is deeply troubling that the NRA wants to delay and even attempt to prevent the vote of the people that Oregonians so deeply wish to have the freedom to take. The time to vote on this common sense public safety and gun violence issue is now. The Lift Every Voice Campaign is hopeful that the Attorney General and the Supreme Court will handle this in an expeditious manner so we will be able to gather signatures as soon as possible and let the people of Oregon have their voices heard. We will not do anything to delay the issuing of the Ballot Title and those who oppose should join us in letting democracy work and to have the voters of Oregon express their views Tuesday November 6. We owe this to our children; their lives and their future depend on our actions today for public safety and the common good. Regardless of when we get the green light this month, our rapidly growing coalition is poised and ready to collect the 88,184 valid signatures needed to place our measure on the General Election Ballot this November. As we prepare to celebrate Independence Day on Thursday July 4, we have declared Sunday July 1st “LIFT 100,000 VOICES SUNDAY” as the culmination of a SIGNATURE SABBATH WEEKEND all over Oregon from Friday June 29 to Sunday July 1st, so that we will be ready to turn in 120,000 signatures by the deadline of Friday July 6.

AP: Oregon's High Court to Consider Proposed Gun-Control Measure

June 6, 2018

PORTLAND, Ore. — A proposed ballot measure that would restrict ownership of assault weapons and large-capacity magazines wound up in the Oregon Supreme Court after a gun rights proponent on Wednesday petitioned for a review of the ballot title, saying it was politically charged and deceptive.

June 6, 2018

Lift Every Voice Oregon IP 43 Statement: Calls for All Parties to Let the People Vote on Initiative Petition 43

On February 14th, 2018, in Parkland Florida, 17 students lost their lives by use of an assault weapon — a semi-automatic rifle designed to shoot multiple rounds. The use of such weapons in Oregon has occurred in Springfield, Clackamas and Roseburg and in many other cities in this country — we all know the names of those cities too well.

The Lift Every Voice Oregon Campaign arose in response to Parkland and other tragic shootings because something needed to be done to keep our schools and communities safe. Our grassroots campaign, of mostly volunteers, filed the initiative, known as IP43, to allow the people of Oregon to take a significant step to make Oregon safer. The Initiative Process has many steps, designed to ensure voters are informed on the issues and, then, empower them to vote directly on laws that will protect us. We want to do everything possible to ensure Oregon voters voices will heard without delay.

On May 23, 2018, the Attorney General Certified the Ballot Title as follows:

“Prohibits “Assault Weapons" (Defined), “Large Capacity Magazines” (Defined), Unless  Registered With State Police. Criminal Penalties.”

Should we take action to keep our schools and communities safe by regulating assault weapons?

That’s the issue that Oregonians will be asked to decide on the ballot. The Lift Every Voice Campaign is poised to go to the people to collect the 88,184 signatures required by July 6th to put Measure 43 on the November 2018 Ballot. The urgency of taking action is crucial.

We, therefore, are announcing that the Lift Every Voice Campaign will not file an appeal of the Certified Title in the Oregon Supreme Court.

“We should let the people of Oregon vote on whether to keep our schools and communities safe by regulating assault weapons,” said Reverend Mark Knutson, chief petitioner for lP43. “People of faith, students and Oregonians across the state want to begin collecting signatures immediately. We urge all citizens and any organizations, regardless of their position, to allow this issue to come before the public for a vote. It’s time to end the delay tactics and legal maneuverings. Oregonians deserve the opportunity to vote on this matter immediately. We intend to Lift Every Voice and let each voice be heard." ‘

June 6, 2018

A statement of support for IP 43 from The Right Rev Michael Hanley, The Episcopal Bishop of Oregon:

  "As a member of Bishops United Against Gun Violence, I am committed to taking steps – both personally and pastorally in my ministry as Bishop of the Diocese of Oregon – that seek to promote public safety and diminish gun violence. Those actions include participating in public liturgy such as March For Our Lives and supporting common sense gun safety measures. For this reason, I support Initiative Petition 43 and Lift Every Voice Oregon in their efforts to reduce the future sales and transfers of assault weapons and high capacity magazines in our state. I am thankful for the people of all faiths training to gather signatures to get IP43 on the November ballot and encourage all who are willing and able to lend their support to this measure."

May 24, 2018

May 24, 2018

Statement from the U.S. Conference of (Roman) Catholic Bishops :

We call on Catholics and all people of good will to urge their Senators and Representative to support policy and legislative measures that:

  1. promote mercy and peacebuilding in our communities by implementing reasonable regulations on firearms such as:

    1. Require universal background checks for all gun purchases;

    2. Limit civilian access to high-capacity weapons and ammunition magazines;

    3. Make gun trafficking a federal crime, and;

    4. Improve access to mental health care for those who may be prone to violence,

  2. promote restorative justice by passing legislation to support important reentry programs that help people avoid re-offending,

  3. improve access to health care and treatment for those with addiction and mental health needs.