A proposal to ban assault weapons and high capacity magazines in Oregon has been submitted as a ballot initiative petition intended to prevent mass shootings.
Filed by an interfaith religious group in Portland, Initiative Petition 42 would also require legal gun owners to surrender or register their assault weapons or face felony charges, according to language released Tuesday.
The group said it aims to get enough signatures to put the measure before voters in the November general election. They would need 88,000 signatures by July 6 to get the measure on the ballot.
The proposal defines an assault weapon as any semiautomatic rifle that has the capacity to accept a detachable magazine, and any feature like folding or telescoping stock, or that can accept more than 10 rounds of ammunition.
“A reduction in the availability of assault weapons and large capacity ammunition magazines will promote the public health and safety of the residents of this state,” the initiative petition says.
Military personnel, law enforcement and members of the government could be exempt from the ban.
Gun advocates denounced the proposal, saying it represents an unprecedented attack on the public’s constitutional right to bear arms.
The proposal would require any person in legal possession of an assault weapon to sell, surrender or remove the weapon from the state, or render it inoperable, within 120 days of passage, according to the language.
If eligible, a person could register the assault weapon or high capacity magazine with Oregon State Police, subject to number of requirements (see full text below).
Any violation would be a Class B felony.
“This is completely out of hand — I couldn’t believe it,” Oregon Rep. Bill Post, R-Keizer, told the Statesman Journal Tuesday night. “I’ve been told so many times by people in favor of gun control: ‘no one is coming to take your guns.’ This explicitly comes for your guns.”
The initiative was sparked by the recent spate of school shootings, said one of the petitioners, Pastor Mark Knutson of the Augustana Lutheran Church in Portland.
"Young people in this country are crying out," Knutson told the Associated Press. "This is the moment in time where we need to step alongside them as adults and do our part with them."
The group intends to tap the same young Oregonians that have been marching in recent protests against gun violence to help circulate the petition for signatures.
Post said he didn't expect the initiative petition to be successful, and noted that no Democratic leaders had voiced support of the proposal.
"This got zero comment or help from anybody in Oregon's Democratic leadership," Post said. "The reason they're not supporting this is that they're not stupid. They know this would bring out the greatest red wave of votes in Oregon history."
Post said he planned to introduce "common sense" legislation in coming days or weeks that addresses gun violence in schools.
"We must do something," Post said. "But this is crazy."