A perspective from Oregon’s mid-Willamette Valley

Minister proves this gun law useless

Written September 16th, 2016 by Hasso Hering
This illustration of an AR-15 rifle if one of many appearing online. A rifle of this type figured in the Lake Oswego case.

This illustration of an AR-15 rifle if one of many appearing online. A rifle of this type figured in the Lake Oswego case.

The Rev. Jeremy Lucas, of Lake Owego, wanted to make some kind of point when he bought $3,000 worth of tickets in a Little League fundraising raffle to win an AR-15 rifle. The point he actually made was to illustrate the waste of time and effort caused by Oregon’s new ban on private firearms transfers without a background check by the police.

Lucas told his Episcopal congregation and the world, via the press, that he had won the raffle as he had wanted, received the prize and immediately took it to a gun-owning friend for safekeeping. The minister had submitted to a background check, but there’s no indication that the friend had. The transfer was harmless and reasonable for someone who had no interest in actually owning the weapon and no way of storing it safely. But it sounded like a violation of the Oregon law Democrats passed in 2015, which prohibits all firearms transfers to other than family members without a criminal background check by the state police.

Right away, opponents of the law took to social media to complain. The Lake Oswego police asked the state police to investigate, and OSP Trooper Tracy Clark went into action. From Aug. 4 through Sept.8, the officer worked the case, interviewing or trying to contact witnesses during part of at least six days and eventually writing a detailed six-page report. Several of the people involved, including the minister himself and the organizer of the raffle, refused to speak to the investigator or did not return calls. As a result, Clark was unable to confirm whether the transfer had taken place.

In a letter signed by Senior Deputy DA Bryan Brock, the Clackamas County district attorney said, in effect, there was nothing to prosecute. In part the letter read: “None of the witnesses nor documentary evidence obtained by Oregon State Police prove that an actual ‘transfer’ occurred. The suspect’s statement to the media that he gave it to someone for safe keeping is insufficient to prove that it did happen. Additionally the investigation fails to prove that even if the transfer did occur, that it was not to any of the permissible transferees. Without the name of the transferee in this case, I don’t think we could ever have a prosecutable case. Therefore I am declining prosecution for insufficient evidence.”

That’s a perfectly reasonable conclusion, given the facts. Giving or lending a friend a rifle should never be a crime. The law making it a crime should never have been passed. The investigation of this incident took plenty of legwork by an officer of the state police, already understaffed. Since the people directly involved in this case refused to talk, it also showed that the law cannot be enforced.

So-called universal background check laws are all the rage among progressive politicians. Will they realize, from this Oregon case, how useless but wasteful these laws are? Probably not. (hh)


27 responses to “Minister proves this gun law useless”

  1. Shawn Dawson says:

    Very good summary Hasso.


  2. Hasso Hering says:

    Received an emailed comment from someone who identified himself as “John Dillinger”:

    Before departing Oregon late last Spring I privately transferred one of my privately owned guns, which I refuse to identify, to a private Albany resident, whose name I refuse to reveal. The gun was legal and had no papers.
    That leaves approx 50,000 possible transferees for the state to interview and thousands of possible guns for them to identify before the local prosecutor can charge me with a lowly misdemeanor.
    Yes, it’s a stupid law.

  3. Ray Kopczynski says:

    Civil disobedience against asinine laws is alive & well…

  4. Jackson Cauter says:

    Of course. This single example makes any and all other possible applications of the statute pointless. Better to simply abandon all attempts to stop gun owners from shooting one another, and innocents too.

    If the author believes his Minister example points to a statutory flaw, why doesn’t the author suggest an amendment to the statute? Pass that language to our state representative. Nobody ever claimed legislation is foolproof and nobody ever claimed that people with guns are smarter than those without.

    • Rich Kellum says:

      Maybe the Author thinks that the law is of so little value that it should not have been put in place to begin with…. In that I concur. with the author..

      • Jackson Cauter says:

        I guess we should not have expected anything more from our city fathers. With a mere 8850 gun deaths in the US last year, there is no real reason to get excited about controlling guns. Perhaps, if that number were to creep up a bit it might make sense. But only eight thousand eight hundred and fifty? Seems barely worth bothering over.

      • Jackson Cauter says:

        Minister Lucas seems more intent on proving that gun ownership is akin to doing the work of the Lord than he is about saving damned souls of sinners. Perhaps it is the right time to suspend Lucas’ 503-C tax free status since he seems to take greater interest in tending to earthly concerns rather than the heavenly kind. I would love to see this minister’s church be shut down for operating outside the scope of it’s charge…namely leaving those things having to do with Ceasar to the secular leaders of this great nation, focusing instead on matters of the soul. If Lucas believes that transferring a killing machine without having to register should be the focus of his efforts, then he is obviously more concerned with secular matters than is healthy for a man of the cloth.

    • Tony White says:

      Mr. Carter, you left out the most positive reasons for gun ownership: protection against the criminal element and a tyrannical government. Let’s say “Better to simply abandon all attempts to prevent citizens from exercising the rights enumerated in the Second Amendment.”

      • HowlingCicada says:

        The fear-industrial complex is working overtime, now that “tyrannical government” is approaching market saturation.

        A couple days ago I heard Sean Hannity declare that homes displaying the American flag might be targets for burglary because the bad guys will think there are guns inside. He was selling some kind of gun lockup or cabinet. This blew my mind because it contradicts everything I hear from the same conservatives that the perception of guns in your home will deter burglars and make you safer.

      • Jackson Cauter says:

        I realize my error. The real problem is that we don’t have enough weaponry in place to protect ourselves. Even with more than 300-million guns in private ownership here in the “Make America Great Again” land of opportunity, we still lost over 8800 folks last year to guns. And why was that? Because of poor planning. Had each of those 8800 victims been packing heat, perhaps the death toll might have been less. I guess the theory of self-protection hasn’t sunk into the Make America Great Again thinking. It’s time for a gun sale.

  5. Cheryl P says:

    “took it to a gun-owning friend for safekeeping”

    Having someone store your gun is not the same as transferring ownership.

    • .Bob Woods says:

      Mr. White, have you ever actually read the 2nd amendment? Well here it is:

      “A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.”

      That amendment establishes the right of people to own arms, for the express purpose of protecting the lawfully elected government of the States.

      Please notice that there is ABSOLUTELY NOTHING said about “…protection against the criminal element” nor is there anything said about “a tyrannical government.” Nothing. Not a word . Anywhere.

      What the 2nd Amendment DOES say is that the people are responsible for “…the security of a free State”. That means our duty is to protect the elected government of our State. Clear, simple and to the point.

      Now you right-wing morons like Trump like to LIE and say it’s about protection FROM the State. That is a damned lie. The words are clear, even if you REFUSE to understand them. Our duty is to protect our democratic institutions and the state.

      So, if you want to take your AR-15 and fight the combined forces of all the law enforcement agencies of Oregon, and the Oregon National Guard, then have at it. Not a one of us will cry as you become a casualty by being an insurrectionist.

      Ignorance of the law is no excuse. You want a fight? Come and get it.

      • H. R. Richner says:

        That’s right. It is about the protection of the State against all enemies, including the Federal Government. When your deplored “right wing morons” talk about the state, they don’t mean Oregon, but the institution representing a nation such as ours and all those of the last century which had very efficient gun controls.

      • Rich Kellum says:

        So Jackson, of the 8800 deaths, how many of them happened as a result of one low life druggie shooting another lowlife druggie, neither of which would be able to legally purchase a gun?????? and because the lowlives who kill each other with illegal guns, you want to regulate the non lowlives…. BRILLIANT

        • Jackson Cauter says:

          Given your logic, the question is begged. At what number of gun-related deaths will you acknowledge that the current, relatively unfettered ability for people to acquire weapons is a problem?

          Currently, we have a bit over 8-thousand gun deaths last year. So, Is your untolerable number 10-thousand? Is it 25-thousand?

          Because you are an elected leader, you have Albany’s ear. For better or worse, you possess a semblance of influence far greater than most within the City Limits.

          As such, I – a citizen of Albany, am asking one of our City Fathers, a person most influential in the debate over these matters, to designate a number of gun deaths above which your conscience would be jolted, causing you to overcome your blind obsession with the unsupported notion that the government is about to take your guns at any moment.

          Mr. Kellum, you are the government even if it is a lowly seat on a small town city council. In the eyes of many of Trump’s most ardent supporters, you became a part of the problem the day you were elected to office. Thank you for your time and consideration on this matter.

      • Rich Kellum says:

        Mr Woods, Your interpretation of the second amendment has been before the Supreme Court and they said you are wrong… You have the right not to have any weapons to protect yourself. If you believe in what you say, you might consider making a sign for your lawn stating: “WE ARE UNARMED.” Do that and see how long it take for you to get robbed.

        • hj.anony1 says:

          Such a “we are unarmed” lawn sign could be a bluff.

        • Bob Woods says:

          “…you might consider making a sign for your lawn stating: “WE ARE UNARMED.” Do that and see how long it take for you to get robbed.”

          Well, Rich, or should I call you Donald Junior, how very nice of you to try and get reasonable Americans robbed or even killed. Thank you for the advice. Now here’s some advice for you:

          The 1939 Miller decision is still in full force and specifically, and at great length, ties the individual right to bear arms directly to service in the militia. The right of individuals to keep and bear arms is affirmed, but subject to regulation and prohibitions on the nature and use of weapons

          Heller overrules a local regulation that applies only to handguns,in the home used only for self defense. The regulation in question was overruled because its requirement for disassembly or gun locks within the home unreasonably interfered with the ability of a person to protect themselves within their own home in the event of an attack.

          Scalia writing Heller specifically states that:

          1) Heller is consistent with the Miller and other decisions; (Stare Decisis)
          2) That requiring licences to keep arms are OK, and.
          3) That registration of weapons is OK; and
          4) That regulation of the commercial sale of arms is OK..

          • Rich Kellum says:

            Mr Cauter, You seem to be worried about how someone is killed instead of how to stop the killing. The problem is that people are killing other people, we need to deal with the killers not the implements used to kill them.
            More people are killed with Hammers than are killed with “assault Rifles” are we now to ban hammers? No Mr. Cauter, find a way to ban the black spot in the killers heart….

          • Rich Kellum says:

            That Reasonable regulation…..

        • Jackson Cauter says:

          Councilor Kellum suggests that the problem is not guns but the “dark spot” in the souls of those who shoot others. His suggestion is that we ought find a way to get rid of this so-called dark spot in order to eliminate gun deaths.

          Society has tried that approach, Mr. Kellum. We have a great many religions that purport to have rules against murder, yet murder continues unabated. Nearly every society has secular laws on the books written to make murder less appealing by threatening extended jail time, yet murder goes on willy nilly. Most of our moms and dads taught us from a young age that murder is wrong, yet the murder rate holds steady across American society and through time. Based on the utter failure to eliminate Kellum’s dark spot, one can easily conclude that Kellum’s position is untenable and just plain wrong.

          So we are left with two choices. We can do, as Kellum suggests, simply give up and allow the proliferation of guns to continue even as people possssing Kellum’s Dark Spot spread mayhem and destruction by pulling the trigger, OR we can attack the problem at the only source which guarantees a solution – strict, stringent gun control like that which is quite common around the world.

          Americans are not exceptional people. We are just like everyone else, capable of good and evil. There is one exception. In America, we are allowed to buy, possess and maintain arsenals of deadly weapons designed for one purpose – to kill our fellow human beings. This seems to be the world in which people of Kellum’s belief think is the best possible outcome. Kellum and his fellow travelers profess that we need to fear our government more than we need to be concerned about being mowed down in the street by gun-wielding murderers.

          Other nations have demonstrated that they have far greater and more nuanced understanding of human nature. They understand that Kelum’s angst over his Dark Spot is pointless because humans are flawed. The only real solution is to severely limit access to the weapons causing the country so much heartache. So thanks, Councilor Kellum, for offering yet another baseless “solution.”

          • Hasso Hering says:

            Murder continues “unabated,” “willy-nilly”? Actually, murder is extremely rare, committed far less often in our country now than around the world in earlier epochs. (hh)

      • Cheryl P says:

        “Right-wing morons”

        Name-calling is totally unnecessary and uncalled-for.

    • Shawn Dawson says:

      “Having someone store your gun is not the same as transferring ownership”

      Yes it is, according to the law. This was well hashed before the law was passed. Senators on the house floor even objected to it based on these grounds, which was covered in the newspapers.

      In any case, the fact that this incident was investigated, pretty much assumes that transferring a gun to a friend for safe keeping does require a background check, or it would not have been investigated.

      BTW, here is the link to the text of SB941, which required these types of checks.


      One thing which bothers me a lot about this story, is that it has built yet another wall between the police and the citizens. That is, one would like to cooperate with police, to help them as they do an admittedly tough job. Yet it seems that a church pastor and his friend have decided to not cooperate with the police. Many others would do the same. This silly law results in decreased communication between citizens and the police, which is driving things in the wrong direction.

  6. hj.anony1 says:

    A bit outside of your beat HH and, you know what, I kinda like it.

    As for any commentary on saving ‘mericans lives from gun violence, I’ll hold my thoughts probably forever because any effort to bring about common sense gun rights reform is futile. Best we keep going along as we are and hope for a limited lives lost due to bullets flying.

  7. centrist says:

    Lots of wandering (rushing?) away from the issue to pound a drum for some personal viewpoint. The real issue is that our voting public is ill-informed. Deity help us all…………..


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