SALEM, OR (KPTV) – Seven years after the Clackamas Town Center shooting, a local non-profit founded by the victim’s families wants to make it possible for gun owners to be held liable.
After lobbying state legislators this past session unsuccessfully, the nonprofit State of Safety Actions now looks to November 2020, where they hope Oregon voters will pass one of the largest gun measures in the state.
Paul Kemp says he wants Oregon to take action.
“If I bought my son when he was in high school, if I bought him a 12-pack of beer and he was impaired, and he hurt himself or others, I’d be liable,” Kemp said.
Kemp’s brother-in-law, Steve Forsyth, was killed in the 2012 Clackamas Town Center shooting. According to deputies, the gunman used a rifle that was taken from a roommate.
"Why, why is a firearm, which is far more deadly, exempt from that responsibility and liability?” Kemp said. “When there are so many other ways we are held liable for our actions?”
Earlier this year, the Cindy Yullie and Steve Forsyth Act did not gain enough floor votes to pass. The group now plans to put the issue before voters as a ballot initiative in 2020. They filed their intent with the secretary of state Thursday.
If the act is passed, all firearms would be required to remain locked when not in use or when being moved; minors would be barred from using a firearm without supervision; owners would be required to notify law enforcement within 24 hours of finding their firearm was lost or stolen; and for any firearm used that injures person or property, its rightful owner is held liable, even if that gun was lost or stolen, unless the owner reported it.
Those found in violation could be fined up to $2,000. Kemp says most gun owners in Oregon already follow safe storage practices and that this initiative is to create an incentive for those who don’t.
“Same thing we’ve done with drunk driving laws, you know, we’re holding restaurants and bars and servers and other adults, we’re holding them responsible, it’s changing behavior, that’s what we need to do,” Kemp said.
Kemp, who is a gun owner himself, says keeping firearms locked and secured doesn’t make it any harder to access in an emergency and that there is no excuse not to. He also believes this proposal would save loves, especially children.
According to the Oregon Health Authority, 50,000 Oregon children live in homes with loaded guns; 26,000 of guns are not kept locked, OHA says.
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