Oregon’s legislature is the ninth state to ban the manufacture, sale, and import of ghost guns, which, according to Everytown for Gun Safety, are the nation’s fastest-growing safety problem.
Sen. James Manning Jr. (D-District 7) said: “Ghost guns are dangerous to our communities’ safety and are notoriously the weapon of choice for people who commit crimes. As a law enforcement officer, my goal every shift was to make it home safely at the end. As a legislator, my goal is to make sure all of our law enforcement officers [can] make it home safely at the end of theirs. House Bill 2005 keeps our peace officers and the neighborhoods they serve safer.”
After a 6-week walkout, Republican senators refused to vote on HB2005 unless the age for purchasing reset from 21 to 18, which is against the preference of 51% of voters. They also requested changes in the language surrounding ghost guns.
The bill describes them as undetectable firearms, whereas the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence says they are unregulated, unserialized, and untraceable, making them the weapon of choice for gun traffickers, violent criminals, and individuals legally prohibited from purchasing firearms.
People convicted of possessing an untraceable firearm would face a misdemeanor on the first offense, which carries up to 364 days in jail, a $6,250 fine, or both. Second offenses and beyond would carry up to 10 years in prison, a $250,000 fine, or both.
Sen. Janeen Sollman (D-District 15) explained why she supports HB2005: “I know the fear and the anger of friends and loved ones that have been victims of gun violence or experienced a scary situation involving a firearm. Everyone has the right to live free from fear.”
Finally, Sen. Winsvey Campos (D-District 18), the youngest member ever elected to the Oregon Senate. She said: As a young person who has been in school during this new era of mass shootings, I can…attest that guns threaten our children’s physical and mental health. HB2005 will keep Oregon’s young people alive.”
Oregon Gov. Tina Kotek is expected to sign the legislation.
Ghost Guns Are Illegal Across the United States
Ghost guns differ from commercially-made serialized firearms in many ways. First, they bypass traditional background checks, convicted felon restrictions, and waiting periods since they are sold as parts.
Some components of these guns can be 3-D printed using easily accessed online instructions. According to the Federation of American Scientists, a 23-year-old bought parts and instructions after being denied a traditional firearm purchase a few years earlier.
Regardless of age, anyone can buy the items needed to build a ghost gun. Since there is no federal regulation on these weapons because the U.S. Congress has yet to create gun safety laws, it is left to the states. As of April 29, 2023, there were more mass shootings than days this year. According to the Gun Violence Archive, there had been at least 172 shooting incidents in which attackers killed or injured multiple individuals.
The Federation of American Scientists reports a dramatic climb in the number of suspected ghost guns in the United States. “From 2016 to 2021, there was a 1000.3% increase in ghost guns collected and reported to the Department of Justice.” Over 37,000 have been recovered since 2017. “Because of their untraceable nature, we can’t say for certain how many there are in circulation.”
GOP Politicians Out of Touch with Voter Desire for Gun Safety
Despite the monumental increase in mass shootings, the threat posed by ghost guns, and the Republicans’ claim that they are the law and order party, the GOP refuses to do anything to reduce gun violence.
They ignore that over 85% of voters polled in 2023 say they want tougher gun laws, including background checks. Over 80% also want to raise the legal age to buy guns to 21 and require mental health checks for every firearm purchaser.
This group says police should be allowed to take weapons from people considered dangerous to themselves and others.
Over three-quarters of those polled support a 30-day waiting period for gun purchases. Finally, 61% of voters said they want to see bans on assault rifles and semiautomatic weapons. However, ghost guns were not addressed in the survey.
Written by Cathy Milne-Ware
State of Oregon Press Release: Oregon Senate Cracks Down on Ghost Guns
Everytown for Gun Safety: Ghost Guns
OPB: Oregon Legislature passes ‘ghost gun’ ban; by Jonathan Levinson
NRA-ILA: Oregon: Anti-Gun Bill Going to Governor
NOLO: Oregon Felony Crimes by Class and Sentences; by Attorney Rebecca Pirius
82nd Oregon Legislative Assembly-2023 Regular Session: House Bill 2005 pdf
Axios: Fox News poll finds voters overwhelmingly want restrictions on guns; by Ivana Saric
Featured and Top Image by Governor Tom Wolf Courtesy of Flickr – Creative Commons License
First Inset Image by New Data Services Courtesy of Unsplash
Second Inset Image by Natalie Chaney Courtesy of Unsplash