A perspective from Oregon’s mid-Willamette Valley

Guns at risk of an ERPO order

Written May 1st, 2017 by Hasso Hering

Recipients of “extreme risk protection orders” would have to give up their weapons and be barred from buying others.

As everybody knew they would, Democrats in the Oregon Senate have passed SB 719, which allows the confiscation of guns if someone can convince a judge that the gun owners are a threat to themselves or others. The House will likely pass it too, because the majority is ready to infringe on a constitutional right if they think it will, as the saying goes, “save just one life.”

Whether the bill saves any lives is unknown. It might actually cost some, but that too is unknown. The main thing seems to be that the bill is opposed by the NRA, so the majority in the legislature passed it if only to stick it to the gun lobby and vote the way out-of-state billionaire donors want.

SB 719 creates a process for judges to issue “extreme risk protection orders” or ERPOs barring people from having or buying “deadly weapons.” To issue such an order, a judge must find that a person presents a risk in the near future of committing suicide or injuring somebody else.

The bill raises questions of how it would work in practice. So it would have been nice for the Senate to find out how the same concept has been applied in California, which adopted it in 2014, and Washington state, where voters approved it as an initiative since.

Senate Democrats outnumber Republicans 17-13. SB 719 passed 17-11. In a press statement, Democrats called it “bipartisan, common-sense legislation that will save lives by keeping deadly weapons away from people at risk of harming themselves or others.”

It is bipartisan only in that Brian Boquist of Dallas, a Republican, is a cosponsor with Democrat Ginny Burdick of Portland. Two Republicans were excused from the vote. All other Republicans voted “nay.” One Democrat, Betsy Johnson of Scappoose, voted with them against the bill.

Here’s how the bill might cost a life. Say a man lets slip that he is thinking of suicide, but he’s not 100 percent ready. Then he gets wind that a relative is filing a petition under this law. Now he’s either going to have to act or, within a day or so, lose the means he had in mind. That pushes him over the edge and, bang, he’s gone. Without the prospect of the cops taking his weapon and ammo, he might have delayed until, maybe, things looked not so bleak.

The bill gives recipients of an ERPO 24 hours to surrender their weapons. Elsewhere it says police serving the order are to take possession immediately. It also says gun owners can give their weapons to licensed dealers for safe-keeping. So which is it? Some clarity in the drafting would have been helpful.

Clarity wasn’t the object on this bill. The object, apparently, was to pass something that would make the proponents feel they were doing something about guns, regardless or whether or how it works out. (hh)


7 responses to “Guns at risk of an ERPO order”

  1. Patrick Quinn says:

    No different from Obama Care, you gotta vote for it to see what’s in it. Oh well, I can see some nasty divorces causing some issues with this law too. Wife or husband REALLY, REALLY mad at the other and “hey judge they said they were gonna shoot me/shoot themselves.” Could someone please interject some common sense in our government, or are we so far past it that it is now gone the way of the dinosaurs?? pat

  2. F.B. says:

    You can’t put up a bill, law, etc.. unless it’s made open to the public
    There is no such thing as ‘not seeing it until you vote on it’


  3. Jason says:

    Right, this bill is horrible, as are all other bills that actually try to do something about gun deaths and mental health.
    Don’t bother offering alternatives, because that isn’t your job, it is someone else’s job. Good job Hasso and Patrick Quinn. You have created scenarios in your mind as to why the bill won’t work and therefore you have summarily dismissed any potential validity and of course condemned any attempt by a Democrat to make change.
    Can we work to gain some actual perspective and not just make invalid assumptions.

  4. John Hartman says:

    To satisfy the Proud gun owners of the state, perhaps the legislature ought to consider thinking outside the box, a la Trump. You know…be a disrupter. What does this suggest.

    When a complainant tells a judge (by the way, in Oregon all state-level judges are elected) that their spouse is about to fill them with .45 caliber lead. Instead of issuing a gun constitutionally troubling seizure order, permitting the local police to confiscate weapons, this new proposal would allow for the state/county/city/municipality to hand-deliver firepower to the complainant’s possession to be used as deterrence against the menacing spouse. Imagine, if you can, that you are an angry white male, cranked-off at your wife for unrelated reasons.

    The Little Woman files a complaint in Court. The judge rules in the Little Woman’s favor. The judge orders the local coppers to deliver appropriate weapons, making certain that the angry white male is home to witness the delivery. This new proposal would level the playing field, allowing equality amongst the angry couple. The supply of confiscated weapons in evidence lockers should be sufficient for several years.

  5. Les says:

    They better take all knives hammers all tools too this bill makes no sense

  6. Tony White says:

    Time for the NRA to get the referendum process going.

  7. John M Novak says:

    I am opposed to this bill ! It infringes on the 2nd amendment rights of all Americans and does nothing to make anyone more safe! It simply pits family members against family, neighbor against neighbor and creates a police state !!!!


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