A controversial gun confiscation bill was taken up – and passed – in Oregon’s House Rules Committee today with only 87 minutes’ notice, during a holiday weekend.
The bill, SB 719, was filed by Sen. Brian Boquist and is one of Ceasefire Oregon and the Bloomberg Minion Complex’s legislative goals. It’s an “Extreme Risk” Protection Order bill, which allows for people’s 2A rights to be taken away without due process, in an ex parte hearing, if a judge finds that they might be violent in the future.
If you’re thinking, “Don’t we have psych hold laws for that?” you would be correct. But, those require doctors and mental health evidence. Not only does an ERPO not require a doctor or mental health evidence – it specifically forbids mental health evidence.
Sen. Boquist, the bill’s chief proponent, says the bill is needed to help veterans who might be suicidal, whose families could make an ex-parte request for guns to be taken away from them for a period of time and allow them time to seek professional help. Boquist’s son, a veteran, committed suicide.
Unfortunately, the bill doesn’t do anything to provide mental health treatment to people who would have just been deemed at imminent risk of harming themselves or others. Maybe the argument is that they’re not necessarily mentally ill, which the Court wouldn’t know since they can’t take that evidence, but I can’t think of a scenario in which someone who truly was at risk of murdering someone or committing suicide didn’t have some type of need for mental health intervention. But that’s just me.
The bill was originally filed as SB 868 and died in the Senate Judiciary Committee on April 18 in what the anti-gun crowd termed a procedural error.
Craig DeLuz with Firearms Policy Coalition explains the problems with the measure in this video:
Using a gut-and-stuff procedure, the bill became SB 719 and passed the Senate essentially on a party-line vote. (Boquist, a Republican, voted yes, while one Democrat voted no.) It had been stuck in the Rules Committee for over a month before today’s vote.
On May 31, the Oregon legislature announced that “sine die” or adjournment, was imminent, which allowed for less notice before a hearing. That was over a month ago, but they’re still in session. The email alert from the Oregon Legislature was at 1:03 PM today, the same time the agenda was posted on the committee’s website, for a 2:30 PM meeting.
At the hearing Rep. Mike McLane (R-Powell) spoke against the bill because of its trampling of due process, the vagueness of the language, and said it punished people who hadn’t committed a crime – just in the name of keeping them safe.
[We’re] seizing people’s property, taking away their lawful rights, all in the name of keeping them safe…when there is no evidence that they’re at risk of harming themselves.
This is like the movie Minority Report with the precogs. Are we really going to seize people’s knives, baseball bats, because they’re deemed by a judge to likely be violent in the future?
Noting that the court “may not include” a mental health diagnosis in its findings, McLane said:
So when the Court is supposed to justify their reasoning they’re not allowed to even talk about any of that? So how does the Court justify the reasoning if somebody is suicidal in showing mental health problems? But yet the Court’s not allowed to even say it. So this person gets notice and a court order that just says – what?
People say oh, it doesn’t intend to do this, it doesn’t intend to do that, but that’s what the language says, and that’s what I have to go by, because that’s what a judge will look at when ruling on it.
It seems to me that when there is an enormous amount of desire to do anything to help…there’s a rush to language. I’m troubled on multiple levels. I deal all the time as an officer in the Oregon Air National Guard with risk to veterans. All the time. And I’m just startled by the looseness of this language, and I’m voting no. I put on the record why I’m voting no. I see all sorts of problems with this.
Another problem is the risk to law enforcement and the possibility of enhancing the risk to the respondent and their family. Under this bill’s provisions, if an ERPO is granted, law enforcement will have to serve the order to the respondent. So someone who might be in a very bad place emotionally has a surprise visit from multiple armed law enforcement agents, who give him a copy of the order, take away his guns, and then just leave?
Once he (assuming it’s a man here) reads the order he will know someone close to him secretly went to a judge and had a hearing. He now has no trust in people close to him and can attempt to find another weapon or another type of weapon and harm himself or others.
Or, the respondent could say “Molon labe” and start shooting law enforcement officers, which would be a horrible outcome.
The Oregon House Rules committee noted that they’d received over 2,000 emails in opposition to this measure, which is why they wanted to take it up while everyone else is out celebrating what’s left of their independence. Disgusting.