2021 was the worst year for gun violence in decades. In 2021, Portland had the most shootings and homicides the city has ever recorded with over 1,200 documented shootings and nearly 70 homicides that included guns. Those numbers surpassed bigger cities like San Francisco and Boston and doubled Seattle’s rate. Oregon’s suicide rate, despite important investments in prevention, continues to be higher than the national average. Like many crises, gun violence has only been made worse by the economic collapse, social isolation, and instability during the COVID-19 pandemic.
While the statistics are grim in Oregon, we have been national leaders in addressing gun violence. We have passed universal background checks, extreme risk protection orders, and safe storage laws as well as invested in mental and behavioral health support and suicide prevention. But the numbers make clear that we must do much more to reduce gun violence.
As governor, I will support measures to:
Ban “ghost guns”, military style assault weapons and high-capacity magazines.
- Preventing mass shootings and gun violence starts with eliminating the capability of firing far more bullets far faster than manual-action hunting rifles, and by banning untraceable firearms, otherwise known as “ghost guns”
Hold parents accountable.
- If a child uses a gun to commit a crime, and a parent violates Oregon’s safe storage law, that parent should face potential criminal liability and face restrictions on future gun ownership
Increase funding for gun violence prevention units.
- Improved response times and more highly trained officers will require more funding, not less
Buy back guns.
- Disposing of guns legally and safely is challenging and complicated, increasing the chances firearms end up in the hands of dangerous criminals or those who cannot otherwise legally purchase a gun. We need a state led effort to work with law enforcement to safely dispose of unwanted guns through buyback programs
Implement, resource and fund the laws we have passed.
- Limit dangerous access to firearms by fully funding implementation of Oregon’s Extreme Risk Protection law and Safe Storage law
- Strengthen Oregon’s efforts to combat hate crimes, and support education and awareness efforts about existing protections. We have witnessed a surge in violent hate, in particular against LGBTQ, BIPOC, Jewish, and Asian communities
Increase access to mental and behavioral health supports and build on the state’s investments in suicide prevention.
- Increase public awareness efforts in support of Oregon’s Extreme Risk Protection Order law, also known as a “red flag law”--an important tool in suicide prevention– especially in communities suffering from high rates of suicide including veterans and rural communities
- Fund programs like Veterans Together in Oregon - a veteran and community-led effort to reduce suicide through increasing suicide prevention knowledge and public awareness targeted at rural veterans
Increase funding to community-led efforts to stop gang violence.
- Use Federal funding to implement violence interruption programs including community-led mentorship, conflict-resolution, job placement, and mental health supports for high-risk youth
Make data-based decisions through partnerships and research.
- Fund state-level research into the effectiveness of existing gun violence protection programs and laws