Gun Control

Oregon Cracks Down on Gun Rights in the Name of Suicide Prevention

A newly passed bill in the state would let cops and judges decide who can exercise their Second Amendment rights.

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Rep. Gabrielle Giffords
Bill Morrow/Flickr

The Oregon legislature just passed a gun control measure that substantially weakens constitutional rights. Senate Bill 719 will allow a family member or a police officer to obtain a civil court order immediately stripping someone of the right to possess a firearm for up to a year, if a judge finds the person presents a danger to himself or others.

Proponents hail the law as an effective way to prevent suicides. Sen. Brian Boquist (R-Dallas) argues that it will bring the number of veteran suicides down. Gun control crusader Gabrielle Giffords has called it a "responsible bill that helps keep guns out of the hands of individuals who are experiencing a mental health crisis."

Paul Phillips, president of the group Oregon Gun Owners, retorts that the bill does little to prevent suicides but does deprive gun owners of basic constitutional protections. Gun confiscations under SB 719 will be "based on hearsay evidence alone, and the firearm owner is not privy to a fair trial," he says.

According to the bill, any law enforcement officer and family member—including partners, siblings, or even roommates—can request a hearing with a judge to get a "extreme risk protection order." If issued, this would prohibit a person from possessing or purchasing a firearm.

At that hearing, which has to be held within one judical day of being requested, the judge will decide whether to issue the order, which goes into effect immediately.

The subject of the order has no right to contest it before it is issued. He can pursue an appeals process afterward, which is a bit like having the right to a jury trial after you've already been sent to prison.

Meanwhile, some of the things a judge can consider while deciding whether to grant one of these orders are not related to suicide, such as past drunk driving arrests or recent drug use, or are totally legitimate exercises of one's Second Amendment rights, such as trying to buy a gun in the past 180 days.

Ironically, given Giffords' reference to "a mental health crisis," one of the few things the judge is prohibited from considering is "any mental health diagnosis or any connection between the risk presented by the respondent and mental illness."

No small amount of procedural shenanigans were used to get this bill through the Oregon legislature in the final few days of the legislative session. Upon it passing the Senate, SB 719 was sent not to the House Judiciary Committee—which usually handles criminal legislation, but is chaired by pro–Second Amendment Democrat Jeff Barker—but rather to the House Rules Committee. That committee's chair decided to forgo a public hearing on the bill, and instead passed it out of committee the day before July 4, when half the Republicans committee members had already gone home.

The bill now goes to Gov. Kate Brown, who is expected to sign it. Once she does, Oregon gun owners will be at the mercy of jurists like Judge Kenneth Walker, who said in court last year that "no one would have guns—not police, not security. We should eliminate all of them."

NEXT: Does Trinity Lutheran mark the "end of originalism"?

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  1. This would almost certainly be thrown out by the federal courts if it makes it to them. Standing would be difficult to get, as the state can pick and choose who to apply the law to. I don’t think an argument could be made that this “chills” exercise of 2nd amendment rights, since in theory exercise does not automatically expose you to a court order.

    1. Also Liberty, it is discriminatory; it does not appear affect other suicide tools – or does it?

      For example, are doctors required to not prescribe opioids under the same circumstance? Are the police not allowed to shoot – suicide-by-cop – until it is ascertained that a relative has not filed a ‘restraining order’? What are the provisions that prevent pissed-off spouses, girlfriends, FGS room-mates from screwing with other peoples lives.

      As you say this as little chance of flying but it will need to go the the SCOTUS because it is unlikely to be overturned by the 9th District Court of Appeals.

      How many firearms can be snatch in the time for that to happen?

      Whilst one sympathize with concerned ‘carers’ having the ability to recommend counseling for those they think in need, it still should not be mandated by ‘Law’.

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  2. …shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any state deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.

    Does it matter anymore?

    1. It’s like some old ideas on an old piece of paper. We have new and better ways. /s

    2. Americans have a choice between a Constitution that guarantees them rights vs. a welfare state.

      The American public continues to voice its overwhelming choice. The losing side is only interested in formalities.

    3. Ah, but you miss the critical point! The government makes the laws, then does stuff, then after the fact it alone decides whether it followed its own invented definitions of “due process”. As long as it agrees with itself that did things the way it wanted to do them the process is, in fact, due!

  3. suicide? not on Oregon’s watch.

    1. Not by gun at least. Pills – meh that’s okay

      1. “Not by gun at least.”

        Not so fast. Where there is a will there is a way. It would be a shame if some desperate soul determined to off himself would bonk and maybe bonk again for good measure some cop in order to take their gun. Said person may then have to off that cop and more if they try to intervene. Oh, I know. Just one of those unintended consequences.

        This law would be a blatant constitutional fail….for anyone who is not teched in the head.

  4. Can we report every state legislator who votes for this? Then every Judge who executes such an order.

    1. Only if you’re a cop or the legislature is heavily inbred.

  5. What happens if a cop is subjected to such an order?

    1. The order has to be issued by a judge, which pretty much nixes that possibility.

    2. Seems fairly unlikely that it will come up.

  6. Cannot consider mental health , yet:
    “Psychological, behavioral, and health problems co-occur and are known to increase suicide risk. Approximately 70 percent of suicide victims had a diagnosed mental disorder, alcohol and /or substance use problems, or depressed mood at time of death. Despite the high prevalence of mental health problems, fewer than one third of male victims, and fewer than 60 percent of female victims, were receiving treatment for mental health problems at the time of death.” ( Oregon health authority)

    Yeah, it’s just a gun grab.

    1. Exactly. They’re going through a lot of language hoops to say “War On Suicide” which is absurd on its face. So it’s just another fraudulent excuse to create an exception to the Constitution.

  7. I am always bothered by this run of gun control logic. I don’t think the government should try to prevent suicide. If there is no fundemental right we can have as people, is it not the ability to look at the themselves and the world and choose to live or die?

    Things like this strike at perhaps the core decision we as humans must make. And it doesn’t do it with words, or discussion, or philosophy. It does it by trying to strip someone of tool that allows them to do something with that shouldn’t be banned to begin with.

    Same reason I am bothered by Right To Die stuff. It always defines a relatively narrow definition of who has the right to die. Everyone has the right to fucking die. I’m not saying they should, but that is their inherent right.

    1. I think that the counterargument to that would be that most suicides are mentally ill people who could benefit from intervention. Which is probably true, but I agree that it doesn’t justify curtailing important individual rights.

      1. Fine, and I’m saying that you don’t lose your inherent humanity once someone calls you mentally ill. If we want to start down the road of discussing the horrendous human rights abuse that happens under the guise of treating the mentally ill we can do that too.

        1. It’s not necessarily the argument I would make. I think you need to always err on the side of not interfering with people’s lives and decisions when it comes to making laws.

          But it’s tricky. Suppose a loved on is trying to commit suicide. Most people would probably call the police (for the sake of this argument I will put aside the fact that that might not be a good idea in a lot of cases). Do we want the police just to say “nothing we can do, it’s his decision”?

          I really don’t know.

          1. I don’t think that people can’t interfere at all. That people can’t talk to you and try to convince you otherwise. If the police come and offer to help that’s all fine with me. Often that is truly what people want. When you talk to a lot of people of attempted suicide or were on the edge they usually don’t want to die. Usually it’s they can’t deal with things anymore, whatever they may be.

            It’s great to help those people. Arresting them and putting in a hospital wing, then drugging them until a professional decides they are allowed to have volition again is not the way to do it.

      2. I think there is a common image, particularly in the actual mental health field, that people with mental illness are rambling madmen. They need to be held down and given a good, hard fucking with the long dick of Psychiatry.

        Many people want help, when you meet others with mental illness we all want fucking help. When you have a system that’s reaction to asking for help is often to lock in a hospital wing and take away your clothes then that is somewhat of a disincentive from actually seeking help.

        There are many other issues at play, but the horrendous performance of the psychiactric industry doesn’t help a lot. It’s why Peer stuff is getting big now, because it works better and it doesn’t involve strapping you down and giving you ECT until you can’t hold a thought for 5 seconds and you piss yourself uncontrollably. (But you’re not seeing things anymore!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!)

        1. BUCS – this seems to be in alignment with the Obama-era regs to prevent folks who’ve been ‘forcibly’ declared having mental health issues from owning firearms.

          Also, one needs to consider the need of the medical profession to drain the savings of individuals deemed to require ‘treatment’.

          1. Sure, if you want me to declare myself against Obama era-regs then I will do it now. Fuck him.

        2. Well, I’m certainly not for involuntary commitment of people who aren’t actually raving lunatics who pose a danger to others.

          1. Danger to others is definitely the crossing line I can agree with. Statistically though, people with mental illness, particularly severe mental illness, are much more likely to be victims rather than victimizers.

    2. If you make suicide legal, then attempting to physically stop someone from killing themselves becomes assault.

      1. Unless you make that legal too.

        But it’s a good point. The issue is more complicated than it seems on its face. I don’t like suicide being illegal. But it wouldn’t be good to prevent or discourage people who deal with suicidal people from trying to intervene either.

        1. Right.

          Personally I would prefer requiring a specific legal process that you have to go through in order to be allowed to commit suicide. That would allow people to stop the impulsive suicides while still allowing people who really soberly want to die to do so.

          1. To paraphrase Monty Python: “We don’t morally censure you, we just want the money.”

      2. Sure. I am willing to accept that physically preventing someone from acting of their own will can be construed as assault.

        1. You’re free to have that opinion, but understand that that would make illegal many things that we now consider laudable acts.

          If you are at your friend’s house, and she says she just OD’d on pills because she wants to die, and you bring her to the hospital, you just committed assault (and maybe kidnapping).

          If you’re standing at a crosswalk, and the guy next to you says he wants to die, and proceeds to walk into the intersection in front of an oncoming truck, and you pull him back onto the sidewalk before he gets hit by the truck, that’s assault.

          1. Let me ask you this question, what is the line here?

            I see a coworker who drinks a lot of soda, let’s say just gallons a day. You tell them that it is bad for them, they say they know and don’t care if it kills them. They are acting destructively and it will lead to their death, I start slapping it out of their hands every time they drink. They should not have recourse because I’m saving them in the long run?

            It’s a ridiculous example, but the core question is, when are you no longer as an individual allowed to make a decision about yourself? I am taking it to the logical conclusion with my argument.

          2. It depends on whether your friend OD’d because you were at her house. Presumably you understood your the history of your friend; maybe she hoped you were a good friend and would support her decision.

            And if they on the cross-walk is bigger than you and drags you under the truck with him – then what?

          3. and you pull him back onto the sidewalk before he gets hit by the truck, that’s assault.

            Isn’t the definition of assault in many jurisdictions any unwanted physical contact?

          4. This is where doctor assisted suicide, or some sort of legal process provides a much better option.

            People who legitimately want to die would be somewhat willing to go through some process to do it in a safe, pain-free way. That’s the incentive, rather than the easier ways to die, which a lot of people really fear because they are painful and/or risky (high risk of survival with brain damage, etc).

            People who try to commit suicide on impulse are less likely to go through with a process like that because they probably don’t really want to die in the first place.

            So, make interference with someone who doesn’t have a court order to kill themselves legal, but make the process for getting a court order relatively easy (maybe a mandatory waiting period, plus a brief psychological evaluation).

            For libertarians to claim that nobody has the right to die is rather hypocritical, don’t you think?

          5. For the most part we already consider assault to be the expansive definition used by BestUsedCarSalesman. But whether being physical with someone is assault (technically battery) depends on the circumstances, even if you’re preventing that someone from acting of their own free will, especially if those actions affect others. If a robber tries to take my wallet I can punch him out and it’s not battery. If someone walks in front of a truck, that’s a danger to the truck and you can legally try to prevent it. If someone has OD’d and you reasonably believe she is not of sound mind it’s not battery or kidnapping to bring her to the hospital.

          6. “If you’re standing at a crosswalk, and the guy next to you says he wants to die, and proceeds to walk into …, that’s assault”

            I don’t think so.

            “Good Samaritan laws offer legal protection to people who give reasonable assistance to those who are, or who they believe to be, injured, ill, in peril, or otherwise incapacitated.”

            So, where exactly does a vet with diagnosed PTSD get “help” from this law?

    3. A cynic would introduce a bill criminalizing suicide for persons under the age of 65.

      1. Life in prison for successful suiciders.

        1. I was thinking total asset forfeiture of the estate.

          1. I think Japan does this, or Germany? There are countries that have laws where if you commit suicide they can fuck with your relatives.

        2. Or you could just make a law that anybody who commits suicide gets their corpse raped by the cops.

          1. They’d have to outlaw razor lined suppositories, butt plugs, diaphragms, etc at the same time.

  8. Isn’t OR the state that first legalized assisted suicide (“self administered euthanasia”)? But now they care how a person kills himself?

    1. There must be a fee for doing it the sanctioned way.

    2. How dare you not purchase the suicide indulgence?

    3. They always use the language “between you and your doctor”, it is never talked about as an individual choice.

      1. Your legal logic is perfect, however, as the Prince of Denmark pointed out 400 yrs ago, this is the prime question. As such, one that must be made by the individual, individually.

    4. My first thought. It does seem sort of counter intuitive. But then again we are talking about the left, aren’t we?

  9. This includes kitchen knives. How is this person supposed to cook?

  10. So, what’s the story with Giffords now? Is she mentally present enough to actually be saying these things, or is she just a puppet for her husband and the other gun control dicks?

    1. I’ve seen many reports that she is not all there, basically just her hubby’s sock puppet. But all those reports are innuendo rather than simple objective reports or videos of her verbal stumbles.

  11. Ironically, given Giffords’ reference to “a mental health crisis,” one of the few things the judge is prohibited from considering is “any mental health diagnosis or any connection between the risk presented by the respondent and mental illness.”

    This is more than a bit unfair. People with mental health diagnoses would be subject to the same standard as anyone else. If that text were not in the bill, then it would essentially allow the courts to strip someone of their gun rights based purely on a diagnosis of depression, for example. As written, the bill does at least require there to be independent evidence of risk.

    1. The irony is that usually people who are not ill do not commit suicide.

      1. If you’re saying ill in general, perhaps.

        If you are someone who has had a chronic pain disorder, let’s name a horrifying one and say spinal bifida. Every day of your life is some level of agony and you eventually decide it is not worth it. Are they mentally ill for making that decision?

    2. “As written, the bill does at least require there to be independent evidence of risk.”

      Better than nothing perhaps, but mental health practitioners are not exactly “independent” of the system that often pays, trains, and/or licenses them. It’s like assuming judges, prosecutors, and cops are independent of each other.

      1. I think I misread what I was responding to, but like my yearbook photos, it’s too late to save myself the shame.

  12. I’m willing to bet that the suicide rate in Oregon climbs for the next three years until Oregon changes the definition of “suicide”.

  13. Anyone who believes the government gives a fuck about our mental health is experiencing a mental health crisis.

    1. Oops …. snorted my beer 🙂 +10

      But isn’t the government the cause of any mental health crisis!

      1. Well, they keep driving me crazy…

  14. What a stupid idea. if you hate gun ownership, why would you object to gun owners killing themselves?

    1. That may not be the true purpose.

  15. Note to Oregon criminals: an anonymous tip and a day’s wait will disarm your potential victims. Enjoy!

  16. Judge Kenneth Walker. The Governor.
    How about we set up a gofundme to bribe a cop to rat out the entire protective detail for these two, as a start? See how they like life as a citizen at the mercy.

  17. This new Oregon law will insure the death of even more veterans who own guns and might be considering suicided. Such individuals will now most assuredly NOT seek help with their problems, knowing that the moment they reach out for help some do-gooder will seek to limit their 2nd Amendment rights.

    1. ^ 1000x this

      But the law helps with the feelz of the prog-fascists who passed it.

      What other constitutional rights shall we strip from the “mentally ill” beyond 2A and due process? Which party is the party of inclusion and diversity again?

    2. Great point, Johnimo. This is more god-awful legislation that will not do its stated purpose, but more importantly, trounces on the Constitution.

      I love the benign-sounding names they give these awful laws. Usually the more benign they sound, the worse they are.

    3. It’s worse than that. The idea that the Oregon law is really going to get people killed isn’t hyperbole. If the victim is mentally fragile, staging a SWAT doorbuster, ransacking his home, confiscating his stuff, embarrassing him in front of his family and neighbors, then taking his handcuffs off and leaving, is a Really Horrid therapeutic intervention.

      I also note that nothing in the whole process of identifying and disarming a person who is supposedly an “extreme risk” requires any kind of professional mental health evaluation.

  18. All this will do is prevent the very people that need help dealing with their mental health issues from seeking that help. Veterans will not give up their weapons easily and the sad truth is that this law will end up resulting in more veterans not getting the help they need and ultimately killing themselves.

  19. Headline: Oregon cracks down on Gun Rights, cynically using suicides as the flimsy excuse of the day.

    FTFY

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  21. Will criminal charges be allowed if the person making the request is found to be lying?

  22. Trying to decide whether this proposed legislation or Chuck Schumer’s “snortable chocolate” ban should win the moronic legislation hall of shame award for the week.

  23. Now THERE’s a novel idea! No… wait… from the 1880s to about 1914, morphine was a popular suicide drug. Old newpapers contain several allcounts of some unhappy-looking feller stirring a volume of morphine into a beer and not moving for cast call.
    So… when does Oregon outlaw cops and cars? Suicide by cop is in the vernacular, clearly because they kill innocent and non-violent people… and their dogs.

  24. Frankly, I am sick and tired of opening the newspaper and reading about the latest mass suicide caused by assault weapons.

    We need common sense gun control, so people can go back to jumping off buildings. It was good enough for my grandpa during the depression, and it should be good enough for these gun rights rednecks, too.

  25. What happens if a cop is subjected to such an order?
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  26. The irony is that usually people who are not ill do not commit suicide.
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  27. a bit like having the right to a jury trial after you’ve already been sent to prison.

    Thank heaven no one is ever locked up pending trial.

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