OR Senate panel rejects gun bill
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OR Senate panel rejects gun bill

Associated Press | April 21, 2005
By CHARLES E. BEGGS

SALEM, Ore. (AP) — A Senate panel shot down a bill Thursday that would have authorized school districts to bar concealed weapons permit holders from taking guns to schools.

The Senate Judiciary Committee defeated the measure on a 4-3 count, with Sen. Floyd Prozanski, D-Eugene, joining the committee's three Republicans in voting it.

The measure was a priority for Sen. Ginny Burdick, D-Portland, the committee's chairwoman and the Legislature's most outspoken gun control advocate.

But she had made no predictions about the bill's chances of passing the Senate and had acknowledged it would face long odds in the Republican-run House.

Prozanski said after the committee vote that Senate Democrats, who hold an 18-12 advantage over Republicans, are split on the issue and that was the main reason he voted not to advance the bill to the full Senate.

Prozanski said he doesn't object to the intent of the bill but that he wanted to avoid a "fractious debate" in the Democratic caucus.

"The bill is dead. The votes are not there," he said.

Holders of concealed weapons permits are prohibited from taking firearms into many public buildings but not into schools, which advocates of the bill argued is a loophole that needs to be closed.

They contended students could face potential harm if a permit holder left a gun sitting unattended in a school.

"A weapon not present can't cause harm whether by malice or accident," Gene Russell, Eugene School District superintendent, said in a hearing before the panel voted on the bill.

Foes of the measure said it's unneeded because there have been no incidents at schools involving concealed weapons permit holders.

"This is an attempt to demonize guns and gun owners," said Jerod Broadfoot, a lobbyist for the Oregon Gun Owners Association.

He contended the bill violates Oregonians' rights under the state constitution "to bear arms for personal protection."

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