The Oregon Senate Judiciary Committee heard public testimony Tuesday morning for an omnibus bill combining several proposed gun laws.

Opponents of Senate Bill 978 sign in before public testimony at the Capitol in Salem, Ore., Tuesday, April 2, 2019. An amendment to the bill before the Senate judiciary committee requires safe storage of firearms, allows retailers to refuse some gun sales and more.

Opponents of Senate Bill 978 sign in before public testimony at the Capitol in Salem, Ore., Tuesday, April 2, 2019. An amendment to the bill before the Senate judiciary committee requires safe storage of firearms, allows retailers to refuse some gun sales and more.

Bradley W. Parks/OPB

If passed, the bill would give firearms dealers the option of raising the minimum purchase age to between 18 and 21 and require firearms to be securely stored when not in use. Depending on the specifics, violations of the safe storage law could be a Class A violation, a Class B misdemeanor or a Class A misdemeanor. 

The bill also places restrictions on the sale of unfinished and 3D-printed firearms — sometimes called “ghost guns.” Other rules in the bill would add hospital reporting requirements for patients injured by firearms and would allow colleges and universities to ban firearms on campus.

Experts and advocates both for and against the legislation packed the Capitol hallways Tuesday and passed through tighter than usual security before heading to testify. Many people also submitted written comments on the omnibus bill.

Hilary Uhlig, a volunteer with the gun safety group Moms Demand Action, voiced their support for the Senate bill, and a similar piece of legislation in the Oregon House.

“Both bills will make great strides to prevent gun violence in Oregon and make Oregonians much safer,” Uhlig told OPB while waiting to enter the hearing hall.

The House held hearings on a separate bill that would refine a law passed last year that closed the so-called boyfriend loophole — a gap in federal law that prohibited convicted domestic abusers from owning a firearm but not did not apply to intimate partners so long as they didn’t live or have children with their partners.

The crowd gathered at the Capitol was passionate, but cordial.

A few feet away from Uhlig, Scott Freshwaters was waiting to enter the hearing and reading a book called “Navy SEAL Shooting.” He had flare on his jacket that said “NRA — Stand and Fight.” He pulled a second sticker from his breast pocket that said, “I will not comply.”

Freshwaters said he had a “nice” conversation in the cafeteria with a supporter of the bill but they avoided politics.

“Everybody on either side of the debate have good intentions,” he said. “It’s just some are misguided,” he added with a laugh.

After the House hearing, Judiciary Committee chair Rep. Jennifer Williamson, D-Portland, said her colleagues are serious about gun safety.

“The chiefs and the sheriffs have been really involved in this as well,” she said. “I appreciate everybody coming together and treating this like a public health issue.”

Lawmakers have until April 9 to vote bills out of committee.