Legislature must act to keep guns away from children
As gun owners, we believe that the right to own firearms comes with the responsibility to ensure they are acquired, stored and handled safely and lawfully.
First among those obligations is ensuring that a weapon does not end up in the wrong hands. A gun can easily cause major injury and even death when handled improperly.
Safely storing a firearm is one of the mot important steps gun owners can take to practice responsible ownership. This requirement is easy for any gun owner to comply with in practical ways and at a reasonable cost. There are a wide variety of storage and security devices readily available at any gun store or outdoor store.
For those who feel they must have ready access to their firearm, there are several models of safes that allow quick access by the gun owner using a four digit punch code or coded card, or new "biometric" models that open with a fingerprint or handprint.
Gun Owners for Responsible Ownership comprises gun owners around the state committed to doing our part to stop gun violence. We are lifelong gun owners, hunters and military veterans. We grew up using guns for hunting, personal protection, recreation and as part of our military service. But, like many Oregonians, we have been wounded by the blast of gun violence in our families and communities.
We feel strongly that Oregon should establish a clear expectation in law that gun owners must take steps to ensure children do not gain unintended access to firearms. Allowing a child unsupervised access to a firearm creates an unacceptable risk for accidental shootings, as well as teen suicide.
Indeed, as Remington's Ten Commandments of Firearm Safety states, "Children are fascinated by firearms. It is a natural curiosity that can have tragic consequences when not properly supervised. Store your firearms in a locked gun safe or some other location that physically bars a child from gaining access."
Currently, 27 states and the District of Columbia have Child Access Prevention laws, creating criminal liability if a person lets a child gain unintended access to a weapon by failing to safely store it. Oregon does not.
It is time for Oregon to create a clear expectation for gun owners that they must safely store their firearms. According to the Oregon Health Authority, about 50,000 Oregon children live in homes with loaded guns, and over half (26,000) of those guns are not stored safely.
These unsecured weapons create a clear risk for youth gun homicides, suicides, and accidental shootings.
Oregon loses, on average, one person every day to gun violence. Establishing clear expectations about safely storing firearms has been shown to reduce gun deaths in other states and will make Oregon safer.
We call on Oregon's Legislature to take action this year to make our children safe from unsafely stored firearms.