UPDATE (Monday, March 5 at 11 a.m. PST) — Oregon Rep. Greg Walden said Saturday that he’s willing to consider tightening the nation’s gun laws in the wake of the Parkland, Florida, school shooting.
Walden is the state’s only Republican member of Congress, and he has also been strongly supported by the National Rifle Association during his nearly two decades in office.
But in an interview with OPB, Walden expressed interest in tougher background checks on gun purchases as well as raising the age limit from 18 to 21 for some types of gun purchases.
Perhaps most notably, he said it “makes some sense” to enact a national version of the Oregon and Washington laws that permit judges to remove the guns from a home of someone who appears to present an imminent threat of violence. President Donald Trump shocked activists on both sides of the gun issue by expressing support for these kinds of laws in a meeting with lawmakers on Wednesday.
“I want to see how it all comes together,” Walden said. “But these are the kinds of ideas that I think could play out on a national basis. Because people who are a threat to themselves or others, the system as it is constructed today does not work very well.”
After last year’s mass shooting in Las Vegas, Walden supported restrictions on bump stocks, a device that allows semi-automatic rifles to function much like fully automatic weapons. And he had also supported efforts to improve the FBI database used for background checks to determine if someone should be allowed to purchase a gun.
Oregon law is much broader than federal laws on background checks. The state also requires checks on private gun transfers and sales by unlicensed dealers at gun shows.
“I think you’re going to see us move in that direction federally too,” Walden said.
But the congressman did not make any firm commitments to legislation he would support. He also made it clear that he continues to be a strong supporter of the Second Amendment right to bear arms.
Walden did dismiss one idea mentioned by the president and many gun supporters: arming specially trained teachers in the classroom so they could respond if the school comes under attack.
“I’m pretty skeptical of that,” Walden said. “I want teachers to teach and I want security people to provide security.”
The congressman spoke with OPB before speaking at the Dorchester Conference, an annual gathering of Republican activists held in Salem.