(Update: Adding video, comments from Lift Every Voice, Moms Demand Action, gun law attorney)
BEND, Ore. (KTVZ) -- A day after the school shooting in Texas, groups gathered in downtown Bend advocating against gun violence.
Theil Larson is the head of the Peace and Justice Team at First Presbyterian Church in Bend and a member of Lift Every Voice Oregon.
The statewide group, made up mostly of current and former pastors, is advocating for mandatory background checks, safety and training, and 10-round ammunition limits for gun owners.
“Because within minutes, hundreds can be killed and that just doesn’t make any sense,” Larson said.
They were outside the downtown Bend Library, gathering signatures for initiative IP-17.
If the group gets 140,000 valid signatures by July, the “Reduction of Gun Violence Act” will be on the November ballot.
They've been at it for four months and said they have gotten mostly positive feedback.
“People have been very, very good.” Larson said. “There’s very few people who turn us down, who feel like it’s not a good idea.”
At this point, Larson isn’t sure what first inspired the initiative.
“So it’s not one particular shooting, it's all of them -- again and again and again,” Larson said.
While Lift Every Voice had been planning to gather signatures for a few days, Moms Demand Action was gathered just down the street in downtown Bend, in much more of a direct response to the school shooting in Texas.
Brandy Steelhammer is the Central Oregon leader for Moms Demand Action.
“I’m angry,’ Steelhammer said. “It’s hard to be a gun violence prevention advocate and watch this happen over and over.”
She said she's lost five people to gun violence, and she wants people to know change is possible, but it could take some deep reflection.
“We can fix this if we want to, and we need to take a really hard look at ourselves and ask ourselves why we don’t want to -- why are we not fixing this?” Steelhammer said.
Steelhammer said she supports background checks for every gun purchase, and pointed out why she believes America's gun-related violence statistically is worse than nearly every other developed country.
“They have mental illness, they have divorce, they use social media, they have problems just like we do in America,” Steelhammer said of the other countries. “What we in America are unique with is, we have a gun culture, where we are putting guns above the lives of our children.”
NewsChannel 21 also spoke with Shawn Kollie, a gun law attorney in Medford, who says further gun legislation like IP-17 is not necessary and will not be effective.
He noted Oregon already requires state and federal background checks for gun owners, and adding these extra parameters will “turn law-abiding citizens into criminals” and will not prevent tragedies like the one that befell Uvalde, Texas.