Monday, June 29, 2009

Oregon Hunting Fees Raised by a Third

The Oregon legislature has passed HB 2223, which raises hunting and fishing license fees each by roughly 30% (or 20%, depending on how you do math.) The bill passed the House 34-to-22 on June 12 and passed the Senate today 19-to-11. It now heads to the governor for his signature.

Read the Oregonian synopsis here.

HB 2223 is being described as a bill to allow ODFW to impose a "20%" fee hike, but it the numbers listed by the Oregonian for the final bill are as follows:

  • Annual fishing license: rises from $24.75 to $32.50 for anglers age 14 and older.
  • A resident hunting permit will go up from $22.50 to $29.
  • Annual combination license -- fishing and hunting -- will rise from $43.75 to $57.50.
I'm not sure what math is used to arrive to claim any of these figures as being 20%, but I've never taken "legislative math." 20% of $22.50 is $4.50; 20% of $29 is $5.80. The rate increase for hunting is $6.50. That's about 29% of 22.50, so I would call it a 1/3 increase. The closest method I see is to divide the rate increase by the final amount: $6.50/$29 = 22%. Not how I would have done it, but I guess a 20% hike is easier to sell than a 30% one. Clearly, I have no future as an accountant. If your math skills are better, please explain.

The reasoning behind the bill was to avoid a $17 million dollar shortfall in the 2009-2011 ODFW budget, and well as to avoid even higher price hikes in 2011-2013. New game & fishing officers are also proposed. Read the ODFW reasoning on HB 2223.

The Oregon Hunting Association has their legislative summary here.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Oregon House Rep Judy Stiegler on HB 2727, a bill to protect CHL holder privacy

The following post is authored by Oregon House Representative Judy Stiegler (D-Bend). Representative Stiegler worked with House and Senate members to help shepherd HB 2727, a bill to protect the privacy records of Concealed Handgun License (CHL) holders from unfettered public disclosure, through the Oregon legislature. The bill is currently in the Senate Rules Committee.

Representative Stiegler's comments are posted in their entirety without editing. The text of HB 2727 can be read here.

House Bill 2727 came to the House Committee on Judiciary in early March and eventually passed the House of Representatives by a vote of 54-4. I am not the Chief Sponsor of this piece of legislation, but I saw an opportunity to work this bill to bridge two very opposing sides of the issue. My purpose in writing this explanation is to respond to the venomous criticism which has been directed to me as a result of working on this bill. I have no problem with folks leveling criticism at me, but I do become irritated when that criticism is based on misinformation. If one is going to be the recipient of criticism for an effort, at the very least it should be factually based and the result of an honest disagreement on the issue at hand. I wholeheartedly endorse the idea that we all will not agree on many issues, and in fact welcome honest discussion of differing views. However, the criticism leveled at me on the issue of concealed handgun license records has been unfairly characterized in light of the facts set out below.

Let me be clear, I am not a gun opponent. My husband and son are hunters and guns have been part of our family’s culture. My goal was to strike a balance between the very legitimate privacy interests of law abiding citizens, concealed handgun license (CHL) holders, and Oregon’s nearly four decade history of public records laws (known as Oregon’s Sunshine Law).

As the bill was originally written, CHL records would be completely exempt from public records laws. That concept is completely antithetical to Oregon’s history of openness in government. I consulted with citizens, legislators, and interest groups to craft the strongest exemption for allowing release of CHL records, ultimately giving CHL holders the most protection possible. Under this version of the bill, when a release would be requested, there would be a very heavy burden on the requesting party to prove by clear and convincing evidence that the release was in the public interest. Usually, if a requesting party such as a newspaper did not like the denial of this request by the Sheriff (a likely result); it would then be up to the District Attorney and/or Circuit Court Judge to make the decision about the release of the records. Making the required showing would indeed be difficult to do. This is why many newspapers in Oregon blasted this protection for CHL holders. This bill provides CHL holders the ability to protect their privacy and have security in knowing, that except in rare circumstances, their information is not going to be released.

Unfortunately, in the Senate, the bill became a battleground for those on both sides of the issue-- those adamantly in favor of looser standards allowing greater access to the records, and those who tried to completely exclude them as a public record. Instead of gun owners having common sense privacy protections from passing HB 2727 this session, they will likely end up with nothing. The bill will probably remain held up in the Senate Rules Committee until the session ends. Rather than solving a problem, the legitimate concerns of the vast majority of CHL holders have been sacrificed to moving political agendas. Oregon’s Sunshine Law as it currently exists, allows unfettered access to these records with no protections.

-Judy Stiegler, Oregon House of Representative (D-Bend)
House Distritct 54

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Murdering Citizens to Preserve the Regime

Today in Iran they are murdering their children. The regime, faced with outrage and peaceful protests against a blatantly stolen election, allowed a few days to pass then cynically declared war on their people via sermons in the Friday Mosques.

Without trying to take political advantage of the ravages suffered today by Iran and its civil society, let me just say that the images below always have and always will be the end result when any government has a monopoly on violence and the instruments of resistance. Rocks will only get you so far, though we can hope to be wrong in this case.

About 3:30 minutes in, this is what state-sponsored murder looks like:

This is a photo mantage of the developing events:


Friday, June 19, 2009

Posting senators' home addresses is a bad idea!

I’ve been hearing many comments about folks wanting to retaliate against what they consider the cowardly state senators who could not stand up to party leadership to protect our privacy rights and our Second Amendment rights. The most popular idea submitted seems to be to publish the personal home addresses of Senate Democrats (those in the senate leadership and the Judiciary Committee in particular) and newspaper editors.

While this on its face may sound like fitting retribution for those with no regard for our personal privacy and safety, I strongly caution against this approach. We should be taking the high road here and not personalizing this fight. Exposing their personal contact information is a bad idea and puts those that supported House Bill 2727 on the same level of those that post home addresses of abortion doctors. Don’t do it!

C. Michael Arnold,
Attorney at Law
Eugene, Oregon

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Second Hand Private Gun Sales - How to do it right

A lot of hullabaloo is made about the so-called "gun show loophole." This is a law in some states that allows non-dealers who sell at gun shows to sell firearms without conducting a background check on the buyer. Licensed dealers always have to perform the check. In Oregon a "gun show" is legally defined as any place where 25 or more guns are available for purchase. But in this state, there is no "gun show loophole." If you sell at a gun show you must do a background check. Here's the statute that says so:

166.433 Findings regarding transfers of firearms. The people of this state find that:

(1) The laws of Oregon regulating the sale of firearms contain a loophole that allows people other than gun dealers to sell firearms at gun shows without first conducting criminal background checks;

(2) It is necessary for the safety of the people of Oregon that any person who transfers a firearm at a gun show be required to request a criminal background check before completing the transfer of the firearm; and

(3) It is in the best interests of the people of Oregon that any person who transfers a firearm at any location other than a gun show be allowed to voluntarily request a criminal background check before completing the transfer of the firearm.

I happen to agree with this law for the simple reason that people at shows are generally selling to strangers. You should not sell a gun to a stranger without doing a background check on who they are. Sorry, but that's just common sense. There are no rights without responsibilities; and showing responsibility is the first step in preserving a right. Gun owners have the right to possess and to transfer firearms, but they should also exercise some judgment and use the resources available to try to keep guns out of the hands of criminals as much as that is possible. I don't pretend background checks are going to stop gun crime or gun buys on the street from burglaries or illegal unlicensed dealers. But it might stop some purchases, and that makes it okay with me to spend a little extra time and money that might save a life.

I've sold guns in the past. I've bought guns from non-dealers and accepted presents from non-dealers. I've bought guns I later gave as gifts. In all these transactions the common thread was that the person giving the gun and the person getting the gun knew each other well. No background check was necessary or would have served any purpose.

In Oregon there is no requirement that you conduct a background check when a non-dealer sells to a non-dealer. To me that makes sense--it's stupid for me to have to run a background check on my dad or he on me if we exchange guns as gifts. The state and public have no compelling interest in this. If I were a felon or if my dad were, then we shouldn't be selling guns. But the point is I'm already 100% sure he's not, and vice versa. (Even Sarah Brady bought her son a rifle without doing a background check, so there!)

Some gun rights advocates also believe that requiring state approval for all gun transfers is the first step to a registration list, which in turn is seen as the first step to confiscation. Maybe it is, maybe it isn't. The events of the New Orleans police in 2005 are still shocking enough for me to know rights aren't always as secure as we think. So no, I don't support tracking all secondary sales. Philosophically, I think gun owners should--and have a duty--to take care in the distribution of firearms on their own. Owning a gun is partially about self-reliance and self-responsibility. So let's see some: know who you're selling to or don't make the sale.

If you do want to sell a firearm in Oregon to a stranger, and you want to do the right thing by finding out if they are eligible to own a firearm; here's what you need to do:
  1. Have the buyer with you.
  2. Be sure the buyer has government issued ID with a picture.
  3. Call the Oregon state police firearms unit at 1 800 432 5059.
  4. Read off the information on the government ID.
  5. Provide the buyer's date of birth, race, sex and address.
  6. Pay a $10 fee, Visa or Master Card accepted. : )
That's it. These rules are laid out in Oregon statute 166.436 Firearm transfers by persons other than gun dealers; criminal background checks authorized; liability.

I doubt this is as simple as it sounds for a couple of reasons. First, it was very difficult to find this information. The information is not listed on the state police website or on my local law enforcement websites. This leads me to believe that in spite of the available service, nobody or at least darn few people are conducting background checks. (Let me know if I'm wrong, please. I hope I am.)

Second, when I got a call back from the state police in answer to my questions about this, the officer noted that the buyer should be present with me at the time I make the call. Okay . . . but what if they are turned down? What if the policeman on the phone mentions there are outstanding warrants for the person standing next to me in my kitchen? Talk about awkward.

For these reasons, I think it would be prudent in any discussion on the phone or internet prior to a meeting to let potential buyers know you are going to make the background check on them before they ever come by to see the firearms. That ought to take care of most felons. Also don't meet them alone. Again, common sense.

In addition to being socially responsible, another very good reason for taking the time to do this background check is to absolve yourself of liability. In 166.436, Sec 7 (a), the law reads:

Except as otherwise provided in paragraphs (b) and (c) of this subsection, a transferor who receives notification under this section that the recipient is qualified to complete the transfer of a firearm is immune from civil liability for any use of the firearm from the time of the transfer unless the transferor knows, or reasonably should know, that the recipient is likely to commit an unlawful act involving the firearm.

If protecting the public isn't good enough reason for you, then protecting yourself ought to be. The fact is, the more responsible gun owners are about controlling the transfer of weapons through such measures as conducting voluntary background checks and keeping guns locked in secure locations when they are not under our immediate control, the less ammunition we give to those seeking to abridge our rights or to saddle us with absurd regulations such as requiring background checks on our parents or childhood friends.

Friday, June 12, 2009

Register-Guard attempts to violate your privacy.

I recently recieved word from the Lane County Sheriff that the Eugene-Springfield area daily newspaper, The Register-Guard, requested each and every name of the 10,000-plus CHL holders in his jurisdiction. Here is the full text of the letter I recieved from Sheriff Russel Burger:

Lane County Sheriff’s Office
Russel E. Burger, Sheriff

June 12, 2009
Jack Moran
Register Guard
3500 Chad Drive Eugene OR 97408

Dear Mr. Moran: I am in receipt of your email requesting public records, specifically a list of all concealed handgun license holders in Lane County. We have the records you are requesting.

Earlier this year I sent a letter to all concealed handgun license holders in Lane County, asking if they wanted their personal information released to the public. A copy of that letter has been provided to the Register Guard.

A few individuals responded stating that they did not want their information to be confidential; and, I will provide copies of those responses. The vast majority of concealed handgun license holders responded that they obtained a concealed handgun license as a personal security measure and they do not want their personal information disclosed.

Regarding those responses, I am denying your request pursuant to ORS 192.501(23). The names and addresses of license holders that stated they obtained a concealed handgun license as a security measure are exempt from disclosure. I am also denying the request under ORS 192.502(2) since the release of that information would be an unreasonable invasion of privacy; and, ORS 192.502(4) as a confidential submission that is not otherwise required to be submitted.

If you are interested in obtaining a redacted copy of those responses, with the names and addresses removed, we are able to provide that to you. Those responses asking for confidentiality, numbering approximately 8,923, were sent to this office both electronically and by mail. In order to provide that redacted information, we estimate it will take approximately 80 hours of staff time, in addition to photocopying charges; and approximately 5 hours of time for our information services department to redact and provide the electronic information.

I do not believe that the public interest would be served by redacting and providing this information, since the remaining information is a simple yes or no response to two questions posed in our letter. Because of that, we will not waive the fees associated with providing a redacted copy of these records.

If you wish to obtain a redacted copy of these records, please send a written request and I will provide you an estimated cost. Upon receipt and approval by you of that estimated amount, we will provide the redacted records.
Russel E. Burger Sheriff
cc: T. Turner - Undersheriff
Lane County Counsel
125 E. 8th Avenue ∙ Eugene, OR 97401 ∙ Phone: (541) 682-4150 ∙ Fax: (541) 682-3309 ∙

I think the Register-Guard's actions really speak for themselves to the necessity of a comprehensive and uncompromising CHL privacy bill. There WAS such a bill, HR 2727 which passed the Oregon House by a huge bipartisan margin. Unfortunately, this bill has been held up in the Oregon Senate by those opposed to gun rights on principle. Thankfully my Sheriff has been incredibly proactive in ascertaining the privacy desires of CHL holders and honoring the nearly 9,000 responses in favor of complete privacy.

But the fact remains that under the current laws in Oregon, he didn't have to. He could as easily have justified selling Lane County's responsible gun owners down the river.

I don't have much else to add, and would love to hear comments and ideas about making them pay. They had no reason to take such actions against the responsible citizens of their community. I'd like to give them some reasons not to. Maybe financial. It's no secret that readership of newspapers across the nation is at an all-time low, and I hardly think the Register-Guard can afford to alienate 10,000 plus current and potential subscribers.

EDIT: Here's a link to the Oregon Firearms Federation's take on this and how it relates to the recent blockade and weakening of our CHL privacy bill.

PLEASE contact your Oregon state senators and demand that they follow the Oregon House in protecting us from these fishing expeditions and intrusions which, while doing nothing to prevent crime, punish those who seek to comply with the law.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Safe Guns, Scarce Ammo

New blog post on American Hunters and Shooters Association, "Safe Guns, Scarce Ammo."

Hysteria creates scarcity. Unfounded hysteria creates politics. Do the actions of President Obama and the Democratic Congress justify the continued hoarding ammunition for a coming ATF Armageddon? The record to date would indicate not.

Read the rest & comment on AHSA's website.


Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Range Review: Johnson Creek Gun Club, PDX

Yesterday I was able to shoot at The Johnson Creek Gun Club as the guest of a member. The Johnson Creek Gun Club is a member-run, wheelchair accessible private pistol range in S.E. Portland. The range is clean, reasonably well ventilated, and well stocked with targets and other necessities visitors can buy on the honor system.

The range is pistol only, though apparently .22 rifles are also okay to use. One good aspect of the range is you must bring your own ammo. This makes it cheaper to use than some other ranges and lets reloaders bring in their own, providing it meets club rules against magnum and other high-power loads. The range uses overhead wires maneuvered by hand cranks (see next picture) to move the targets out to the maximum distance of 50 feet. At least one of these malfunctioned while I was there, but for the most part they seemed in good repair.

There are ten lanes altogether and about half were in use when I went early in the afternoon. Other shooters present included families with young kids and several women; there was no macho posturing going on--everybody was friendly and under control. The place has a very good vibe to it. The only drawback is the range rule that targets be extended out to the maximum distance of 50 feet, so if you want to practice closer shooting that would be technically against the rules. (At least one shooter was shooting at 15 feet while I was there but no one said anything.)

The reason I am not a member of this well-maintained club is its requirement that all members first be members of the NRA. The club website says, "Johnson Creek Gun Club is NRA affiliated and requires NRA membership of all its members. It is quite possibly the only 100% NRA club in the area." Like most gun owners, I'm grateful to the NRA for its past work in promoting gun rights, safety and training programs. But I find membership in that organization an increasingly hard pill to swallow as the NRA increasingly identifies itself as a right-wing political organization. These partisan actions include such actions as Wayne LaPierre speaking at CPAC (the Conservative Political Action Conference) where he referred to gun ownership as a "conservative value," and the NRA's over-the-top, histrionic attacks on Barack Obama last fall. As a result, I've let my NRA membership lapse and don't intend to renew it until the organization tones down it rhetoric as a de facto branch of the Republican party.

However, if you're already an NRA member (and I know several members of the Democratic gun caucus who are members at Johnson Creek) this is a close, convenient location for PDX shooters that I recommend using. If you're a member of the club or know someone who is, please consider allowing waivers to the NRA requirement by allowing membership in genuinely non-partisan pro-gun groups, e.g. Oregon Hunters Association, to be substituted by those who feel the NRA no longer represents our values.

Sunday, June 07, 2009

Cell Pal Concealed Carry Holster

Cell Pal is a very interesting & intriguing type of concealed carry system that lets you dress more normally. If anyone has used one, what's your impression?

What other systems have people used that they find work well for concealed carry, both on foot and in vehicles? Do share--thanks!