At least 46 Oregonians have been ordered to surrender their guns under a new type of court order intended to stop suicides and mass shootings, law enforcement and court officials testified to state lawmakers Wednesday.
Ten of the cases affect people in Multnomah County, where authorities have seized more than 50 guns from people found to pose a danger to themselves or others, Mike Reese, the county sheriff, told a joint meeting of the Senate and House judiciary committees. Washington County follows with at least eight cases, then Josephine County, with at least seven, according to documents submitted to the committees.
In a June news story “Shots Not Fired,” The Oregonian/OregonLive reported on the first several dozen gun seizure orders issued under the new law. The newsroom’s analysis showed judges ordered guns seized mostly from people affected by substance abuse, anger or mental health problems. Research presented to lawmakers Wednesday indicates that trend has continued.
Reese told lawmakers that most “extreme risk protection order” cases in Multnomah County arose from a person’s threats of suicide. In several cases, people brandished weapons and threatened to shoot themselves or others before authorities took those guns under the court-granted order, he said.
“I believe that this legislation is an important component of a comprehensive approach to gun violence reduction,” Reese testified.
Judge Maureen McKnight of the Multnomah County Circuit Court testified that three-fourths of gun removal cases involved threats of suicide. Domestic violence was a factor in one-third of cases, she said.
Responding to lawmaker’s earlier concerns that the gun-removal orders would be subject to abusive overuse by spurned exes or power hungry officers, Travis Hampton, the Oregon State Police superintendent, said those worries “have not borne out in the evidence.”
In its analysis, The Oregonian/OregonLive noted that the new law does not require people subject to gun removal orders be referred to mental health professionals — a requirement in Connecticut, where the first such law was adopted. Oregon lawmakers did not discuss that element of the gun-removal process Wednesday.
— Gordon R. Friedman
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