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Oregon's LGBTQ Community Fears New Law Will Deny Them Guns

Oregon's trans and queer gun supporters are worried that a new state law will prevent them from buying firearms, reports NPR. The law grants county sheriffs and police chiefs discretion to determine who qualifies to purchase a firearm under a new permit-to-purchase program. Measure 114 lacks criteria clearly defining what disqualifies applicants, details on what makes someone a threat, and what data can be used by law enforcement in making that decision. That's a problem for activists who have critiqued law enforcement, particularly in the racial justice protests over the past two years. Mia Rose, a trans person of color and former licensed firearms dealer said, "If they were to get that information that you got snatched up off the street [arrested during the Portland protests after the killing of George Floyd in 2020], I would assume that the law would say they could deny your purchase, or deny your right to have a permit." She and her friends were initially drawn to guns out of fears that grew during the Trump presidency. Recent shootings like those in the LGBTQ Club Q last month in Colorado Springs, Co., that left 5 dead or at a school in Uvalde, Tx., in May that killed 19 students and 2 teachers have solidified their desire for armed community defense. They believe the police are not there to protect them.


Activist Ross Eliot shares the desire for community defense and opposition to Measure 114. Rose and Eliot worry the law will disproportionately inhibit outspoken marginalized groups from purchasing guns while doing little to prevent domestic terrorism. This is due to a confluence of factors, from the rise of 3D printed 'ghost-guns' to reports of ties by some Oregon law enforcement officials to right-wing groups like Patriot Prayer and the Oath Keepers. Eliot says the measure could create environments for corruption to occur., "Police could easily restrict permits to preferred individuals and deny others without oversight to determine if people from particular racial or ethnic groups, religious backgrounds, LGBTQ status or political affiliations were being screened out." Proponents say the lawcame as a response to mass shootings and hate crimes. Liz McKanna of Lift Every Voice Oregon, the group that wrote Measure 114, says states that have passed similar laws have shown decreases in gun deaths and injuries. She discounted the concerns about police bias, pointing toward the new requirement for an annual publication by police of the number of permit applications made, approved, and denied, as well as the reason for denial. She says the publication will aim to function as a mechanism to root out bias. However, any data published, including factors such as race, gender, or sexuality, will be decided by state police. For now, the measure's opponents have won a partial victory as a judge blocked Measure 114 from taking effect last week after a federal judge gave it the go-ahead.

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