Oregon Gov. Kate Brown signed into law legislation this week that seeks to disarm domestic abusers, stalkers, and individuals subject to certain court protective orders.
Under existing state law, many of these individuals are already prohibited from purchasing and possessing firearms. However, lawmakers complained that the law didn’t go far enough to confiscate firearms currently in their possession.
HB2013, which Gov. Brown enacted Tuesday, is supposed to aggressively address this “loophole.”
“The deadly combination of guns and domestic violence is well-documented. While mass shootings make headlines, it is all too common that gun violence occurs behind closed doors and away from TV cameras,” said Governor Brown in a press release obtained by GunsAmerica.
“This legislation represents another step forward in improving Oregon’s common-sense gun laws, ensuring that no one else lives in fear from firearms in the wrong hands,” she added.
A summary of the bill shows the escalation of the proceedings. Note, that the law even calls for taking guns from people who haven’t had their day in court so long as they “had an opportunity to be heard in court.”
Provides that person subject to certain court protective orders is prohibited from possessing firearms if person had opportunity to be heard on order and did not request hearing, failed to appear at hearing or withdrew request before hearing occurred. Punishes violation of prohibition by maximum of 364 days’ imprisonment, $6,250 fine, or both. Requires court to order relinquishment of firearms and ammunition when person is convicted of certain domestic violence offenses or subject to certain court orders. Requires person to transfer firearms and ammunition within 24 hours of court order. Requires court to notify district attorney and Department of State Police if person does not file affidavit or declaration concerning possession of firearms.] Requires person to file declaration concerning disposition of firearms and ammunition within two judicial days of order. Authorizes contempt proceedings against person who does not file declaration. Requires law enforcement agency that takes custody of firearms pursuant to relinquishment order to notify Department of Justice and perform criminal background check prior to law enforcement agency’s return of firearms. Declares emergency, effective on passage.
Now, ostensibly, this law makes sense. Dangerous creeps should be disarmed. Period. But there are at least two major problems with HB2013.
The first is that not all of those accused fall into the “dangerous creep” camp. Confiscating guns from and permanently terminating the 2A rights of individuals not in that camp before they’ve had their day in court violates their due process.
There may be legitimate reasons why an individual didn’t request a hearing (because he didn’t know he had that legal option) or why an individual can’t make a specific court date, e.g. work, watching children, illness. Point being, the state should pull back on its zealousness to roll out the confiscation squads, and it should be doubly sure that the accused have been afforded due process.
The second problem with HB2013 is its effectiveness. The assumption is that HB2013 permanently disarms dirtbags. That’s a fatal assumption. Because even if cops are lucky enough to locate and seize all the guns from a dirtbag today, there’s no way to guarantee he won’t procure one tomorrow (or any other lethal implement for that matter).
Facts being facts, only about 11 percent of violent criminals buy guns at gun shops or gun shows. The other 89 percent obtain them another way, more often than not through illegal channels (black market, theft, straw purchasers, criminal associates). What this means is that those most likely to commit violence against women are probably the least likely to be stopped or deterred by this law. It doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t disarm dirtbags. It just means that we have to be realistic about the efficacy of HB2013 to prevent domestic violence. Put quite simply, women in the crosshairs of violent abusers may not be any safer as a result of HB2013.