In their eagerness to legislate against guns and their owners, Democrats in the Oregon legislature never seem to be concerned about the practical side of life, meaning enforcement of the laws they pass. The latest example is Senate Bill 525, intended to force persons prone to domestic violence to get rid of any firearms they may have.
On the face of it, it makes perfect sense to say that society in general and certain families in particular are safer if violent and abusive family members don’t have ready access to deadly weapons. So SB 525 would make it unlawful to possess a gun or ammunition if you’ve been convicted of misdemeanor domestic violence or have been served with a restraining order under the Family Abuse Prevention Act and have had a chance to object to the order at a hearing in court.
But how would it work? Somebody, let’s say a man, is the target of a qualifying restraining order that’s been upheld following a hearing. So now it’s unlawful for him to own his gun or ammunition. If he has either, how long does he have to get rid of it? The bill doesn’t say. Presumably the prohibition takes effect right away.
The bill doesn’t make this clear, but if possession of a firearm or ammunition amounts to a danger to the family protected by the restraining order, then presumably the police have the power to take both the gun and ammo away. How would that work?
Maybe they could call him and demand that he bring his rifle to the station and turn it in. (Would they then have to keep it and give it back when the restraining order is no longer in effect?)
If a request fails, could the police stage an early-morning raid with a SWAT team and ransack the premises to discover any possible hiding place where a gun or box of bullets might be concealed? Would a court order or a warrant be necessary for this to take place? Or could weapons be confiscated based on the restraining order itself?
The Senate Judiciary Committee voted 3-2, on April 21, with Sara Gelser of Corvallis joining the other two Democrats in the majority, to send this bill to the Senate Rules Committee. Perhaps that panel will consider the practical implications — and whether to authorize searches for and confiscation of hidden firearms in people’s homes — before taking further actions on this bill. (hh)