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Bend city councilors back M. 114, weigh gun regulation options in wake of shooting, review draft camping code

(Updated: adding details from council work sessions)

May also decide whether to endorse Measure 114 on Nov. ballot

BEND, Ore. (KTVZ) -- Since the deadly shooting at the Eastside Safeway in Bend last month, the community has been searching for ways to prevent such tragedies in the future.

City councilors reviewed possible actions at a Wednesday evening work session and examined regulations passed by several other Oregon cities where possession of a loaded firearm in a public building is unlawful.

“This is a response to our community really wanting safety,” Councilor Melanie Kebler, who is running for mayor this fall, said earlier Wednesday. “I’m looking forward to talking about what our options are and finding out what might be something that we could do here.”

The council is also discussed Oregon's Red Flag Law, and Ballot Measure 114.

Measure 114 would ban ammunition magazines that hold more than 10 rounds. Before people try to buy a gun, they would need to acquire a “permit to purchase" issued by law enforcement. Applicants would also need to show photo ID, provide fingerprints, take gun safety training and pass a criminal background check, regardless of how long it would take to complete. 

“I support Measure 114," Kebler said. “I think it's just common0sense gun regulations that our state needs to improve safety."

The NRA has labeled Measure 114 the nation's most extreme gun control initiative.

A local gun shop owner, who did not want to speak on camera, told NewsChannel 21 Wednesday he feels the measure is more a performative action then one to address the issue of gun violence.

Chris Piper, the other mayoral candidate, told NewsChannel 21 in a statement: 

“Understandably, this was a horrific event that happened at Safeway and has left many in our community feeling saddened and uneasy. Senseless acts like this go against all our beliefs. I believe that we, as a community, region, and state, strive to maintain an environment where everyone feels safe, respected, and valued. I thank our courageous first responders who bravely risked their lives. It is important we remember Mr. Surrett whose bravery helped prevent more loss of lives. This event must prioritize the importance of Mental Health Care for Oregon and to review our Oregon Firearms Instant Check System to determine what amendments may need to be made. It is my opinion that this issue must reside at the State and Federal level, but local officials can certainly contribute voices/opinions from their community.”

The gun owner said giving gun stores more access to personal and medical info on a potential buyer could be one way to limit guns falling into the wrong hands.

But the owner said measures like this make it more difficult for former law enforcement, veterans, long-time and first-time gun owners to purchase firearms.

Kebler disagrees.

“I don’t think anything in this measure is going to affect people who are responsible gun owners,” Kebler said. “What it does is increase safety, increase the ability to keep guns out of the hands of the wrong people who shouldn’t have them, and it's actually based on things that have worked in other states.”

The staff report to the council notes 15 states, including California and Washington, which have permit-to-purchase programs. Additionally, it cites 10 states, including California, New Jersey and New York, which limit magazine capacity to 10. 

On September 7th, councilors Kebler and Barb Campbell asked fellow councilors to support a future discussion about what the council can do on the issue of gun violence. She said she was seeking a work-session discussion "to show the community we really take this seriously, and want to do what we can at the city level."

The city attorney’s office’s presentation to councilors Wednesday evening (embedded below) noted the state’s existing firearm regulations and what local governments can regulate, only if lawmakers have specifically authorized it.

The city already regulates the purchase of guns by second-hand stores and  bans the discharge of firearms within city limits, but only bans possessing loaded firearms in parks at present. The presentation lists four Oregon cities that have regulations barring loaded firearms and details the state’s “Red Flag Law” that allows people to ask a court to take guns from someone deemed a risk to themselves or others.

Councilors agreed Wednesday evening to jointly endorse Measure 114, while city staff noted that state law does not allow non-elected city staff to spend their time campaigning for or against candidates or measures.

However, councilors seemed surprised to hear from city law clerk Brenden Catt that since some 18,000 to 20,000 background checks are performed now in Deschutes County each year, the city could need to hire 13 to 20 more staff just to process the new permits under Measure 114, something Mayor Pro Tem Anthony Broadman called “a massive unfunded mandate.”

Councilors agreed to a work session – in November, after the fate of Measure 114 is known – on whether to follow other Oregon cities that have barred loaded firearms in public facilities, one thing state lawmakers have left up to local governments. Catt noted that people with concealed handgun licenses are exempt from any ban on loaded firearms in public facilities.

City councilors also want the city and other local agencies to take steps to make more of the community aware of the Red Flag Law and how to make use of it.

Police Chief Mike Krantz told councilors the city already makes frequent use of the process to get an "extreme risk protection order" and get a judge to order the removal of firearms from those deemed at risk of harming themselves and others.

"We're the highest-using agency in the state and county, mostly out of our department," he said. "So we utilize it mostly around people who are family members who are reporting some sort of concern about a family member who is typically going through some sort of mental health crisis and afraid that they may use a firearm either for self harm or harm in the community."

City councilors also reviewed the city attorney's office's draft of a code to regulate unsanctioned camping (full presentation below), after months of council and staff discussions and before two roundtables planned for next week, one Tuesday evening with city advisory bodies and then Thursday morning with invited community and business representatives. (No public testimony will be taken but they will be livestreamed.)

While it would ban such camping on public rights of way, as well as any residential-zoned property in the city there are caveats -- for example, it would not bar using public places to rest.

Enforcement of the Class C civil infraction (the lowest level) would include an assessment of the person’s situation, and it could not be enforced if the person did not have shelter available. The primary enforcement “could likely be” removal of the camp, following state law and city policy, after 72 hours notice.

Article Topic Follows: Government-politics
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Noah Chast

Noah Chast is a multimedia journalist for NewsChannel 21. Learn more about Noah here.

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Barney Lerten

Barney is the digital content director for NewsChannel 21. Learn more about Barney here.

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