The Oregon state legislature sent a bill to the governor’s desk last week that would impose strict penalties on gun owners who fail to secure their firearms and ban firearms from being carried in some public places, including the state capitol.
The bill, which passed the House and Senate by wide margins, requires gun owners to lock their firearms with a trigger or cable lock or keep them in a secured container or “gun room.”
The firearm does not count as “secured” if a key or combination to the trigger or cable lock or the container is “readily available” to a person the gun owner has not authorized, or if the firearm is a handgun, is left unattended in a vehicle, and is within view of persons outside the vehicle.
Gun owners can also be charged with negligence if their unsecured firearm is taken and used to injure a person or property within two years of the theft. Gun owners whose firearms are stolen must report the theft within 72 hours, according to another section of the bill.
Unlike many safe storage laws, this legislation allows firearms to be kept in a “gun room.” The legislation defines such a room as an area within a building enclosed by walls, a floor and a ceiling, including a closet, that has all entrances secured by a tamper-resistant lock, and that is kept locked at all times when unoccupied.
The room must be used to store firearms, ammunition, components of firearms or ammunition, or equipment for firearm-related activities.
Those caught violating the new safe storage policy could face a maximum $500 fine and up to $2,000 if a minor obtains a firearm.
Gun dealers also face new requirements as part of the legislation. Dealers must now post a sign in block letters of at least one inch in height that reads, “The purchaser of a firearm has an obligation to store firearms in a safe manner and to prevent unsupervised access to a firearm by a minor. If a minor or unauthorized person obtains access to a firearm and the owner failed to store the firearm in a safe manner, the owner may be in violation of the law.”
In addition, the omnibus firearms legislation bans guns in the state Capitol building and in the passenger terminals of airports with over one million passenger boardings per year. Public universities, community colleges, and district school boards can also ban firearms on school grounds under the new legislation.
Finally, adding insult to injury, the bill increases the cost to purchase a concealed carry license. Previously, licensees had to pay $65 for an initial handgun license and $50 for renewal. Now, initial licenses will cost $115 and renewals will cost $75.
The bill is awaiting the signature of Democratic Gov. Kate Brown, who will almost certainly sign it.