March 19, 2019

Response to the most recent shooting in New Zealand

We grieve with our Muslim brothers and sisters the tragic loss of life in the horrific mass shootings at the Al Noor and the Linwood Mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand. We commend Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern for vowing to address, immediately, weaknesses in New Zealand’s gun laws, in particular military-style semi-automatic firearms and large-capacity magazines.

We urge the Oregon Legislature to follow that courageous path to make Oregon safer.  The New Zealand shooter used two semi-automatic military-style weapons to which he attached large-capacity magazines.  Military-grade weapons have no place in civilian life and are unnecessary for self-defense. Combined with Large-capacity ammunition magazines (LCMs) – 30, 50 and even 100 round magazines — these weapons have been the tools of choice in over 50% of the mass shootings in the past three decades, including:

•        Umpqua, OR (Umpqua Community College): AR-15 variation used; 9 died; 7 injured

•        Orlando, FL (Pulse Nightclub): AR-15s used; 49 people died; 53 injured

•        Las Vegas, NV: AR-15s used; 58 died, over 400 injured

•        Parkland, FL: AR-15 used; 17 students and staff died, many others injured

Because shooters using LMCs can fire at large numbers of people without taking the time to reload, those in the line of fire do not have a chance to escape, law enforcement and even bystanders do not have the chance to intervene, and the number of lives shattered by senseless acts of gun violence increases dramatically.  Incidents where assault weapons or large-capacity ammunition magazines were used resulted in 135% more people shot and 57% more killed, compared to other mass shootings.

At least 7 states and the District of Columbia have imposed bans and/or strict regulation of such military-style, semi-automatic weapons, and those restrictions have been upheld as permissible under the United States Constitution by reviewing courts. Our proposed legislation will require current owners who want to keep these weapons to pass a background check and then register each weapon. Future sale and manufacture of assault weapons would be banned altogether.  This is a modest and rational approach to making Oregon a safer place for our children and our communities.