• 1 FEB
    Senator Betsy Johnson (D-16 Scappoose)
  • 28 FEB
    Marty Wilde (D-11 Central Lane and Linn Counties)
  • 7 MAR
    Jeff Barker (D-28 Aloha and Beaverton)
  • 12 MAR
    Senator James Manning (D-7 North Eugene and Junction City)
  • 13 MAR
    Senator Floyd Prozanski (D-4 North Lane & South Douglas Counties)
  • Senator Arnie Roblan (D-5 Coos Bay & South Oregon Coast)
  • 14 MAR
    Anna Williams (D-52 Gresham & Hood River)
  • 21 MAR
    Representative Brian Clem (D-21 Salem)

The Liberal Gun Club’s First Meeting:  Senator Betsy Johnson (D-Scappoose) 

Senator Johnson represents a rural district and is very pro-2A. Present were LGC Oregon Chapter President Richard Lidzbarski, Chapter Vice President Morissa Pawl-Frederico, and LGC member Ilya Monastyrsky who was also there to represent Portland Pink Pistols. The meeting was scheduled to last for 15 minutes, but went so well that it lasted for one hour and fifteen minutes. She took the time to go through the names of every Democrat (and a small number of Republicans) that she thought “persuadable” or at least “worth seeing”. She especially hit it off with our LGC VP Morissa.

Armed with Betsy’s list of persuadable Democrats, Richard booked 7 more appointments on behalf of The Liberal Gun Club. He called nine legislators in all, and only one refused to even meet with us. When speaking to an aide to book the appointment, Richard would say “Hello, I’m Richard Lidzbarski from The Liberal Gun Club. We are an organization of liberal and progressive people, mostly Democrats, who are also gun owners. I was wondering if the Senator/Representative would be willing to meet with us to discuss the slew of upcoming firearms legislation. I do not personally live in the Senator’s/Representative’s district, but I represent people who do. If the Senator/Representative can find the time to meet with us that would be appreciated and of course I will be reporting back to our members about our meeting.” This formula worked 8 out of 9 times.

Our Second Meeting: Representative Marty Wilde.

Richard met alone with Wilde on behalf of LGC because no one else could make it to Salem that day. He is an Air Force vet and gun owner (I didn’t press on whether that meant daddy’s old shotgun or something more gun-guyish) who believes in “responsible gun ownership” and “sensible gun safety laws.”  An adversarial demeanor helps no one when you are trying to influence people, so the tone was kept friendly and conversational. We talked about our club and what we are about.

He talked about suicide among vets (he’s on the Veterans Affairs Committee) and I brought up root cause mitigation and that many of our members are veterans and so this issue is important to us too. I talked about how my big, heavy, M1A that I use for rifle competition might become illegal because it has a flash suppressor (and nothing else) and that flash suppressors don’t make it any more deadly. He agreed that these bills are badly written and will likely be changed substantially during the “sausage making process.”

He said that HB-2505, the “safe gun storage” bill, is the one to watch and the one most likely “to go farthest.”  This jibes with what Senator Johnson said: that some kind of “safe storage” law is likely to be passed. He thinks the assault weapons bill is less likely to pass. SB-5, the range liability bill, is an unknown, but he agreed that it’s not necessary to hold cities liable for bullets that leave the range when the range itself is already liable.

Our Third Meeting: Representative Jeff Barker (D-28)

Representative Barker’s district includes Aloha and Beaverton. Rep. Barker was an excellent person for us to meet because he used to chair the Judiciary Committee until he was replaced by the leadership for stonewalling their “gun safety” bills. He is an ex-cop, ex-military, and pro Second Amendment.

He gave his thoughts on the bills now in the works and his views echoed the others I’ve been hearing: the assault weapons ban bill and the magazine restrictions bill are going nowhere because they don’t have the votes and the Democratic leadership has decided they do not want to spend the political capital on gun bans right now. Again echoing what others have said to me: it’s the “safe gun storage” bill that is the one to watch and the one *most* likely to pass. The restriction of sales to those under 21 bill also have some chance of passing.  The newly introduced SB-925, which allows schools, universities, and the State Capitol Building ban concealed carry also has some chance of passing. In Barker‘s estimation these bills are the only ones really in play.

We brought up the little mentioned SB-5 which makes cities in which rifle ranges reside also liable for any bullet that leaves the range and why that’s another back door ban attempt. He said he’d keep his eye on it. He is supportive of us and pretty firmly in our camp, overall. He indicated he is against all gun bans, but a little more open to the under-21 bill (HB-2251).

Our Fourth Meeting: Senator Manning.

Ilya representing the Pink Pistols, was with LGC Oregon’s Richard Lidzbarski at this meeting. Manning is listed as a co-sponsor of SB-925, which we spent the great bulk of our time talking about even though we had planned to talk about several of the most notable bills.

Ilya and Richard talked about why they conceal carry and why that is important to them. They  think they got through to him a little, because he asked them how he could change the wording of the bill to make them happier with it. He was looking for middle ground. Ilya and Richard said that removing the colleges and universities carry ban would go a long way to making them happier with SB-925 since of the three types of locations mentioned in the bill, a college campus is where personal protection is most needed. He said he would consult with the other bill sponsor to get the colleges and universities carry ban language removed. Who knows if this will actually come to pass, but we like to think we just might have done a bit of good.

Our Fifth Meeting: Arnie Roblan (D-5)

Rep. Roblan represents the rural Oregon coast in a district that includes Coos Bay, Newport, and Tillamook.  At this meeting, Richard represented LGC, Ilya represented the Pink Pistols, and LGC Member Brett Matthews who was also representing in2Action, another 2A group seeking to build alliances to fight for our Second Amendment rights in Oregon. For a time it looked like they would not be able to meet with him at all since he was “running late” after a committee meeting. They stuck around hoping for a meet rather than settle for talking to the chief of staff. In the end though, their persistence paid off a bit and they did a West Wing style walk and talk through the halls of the Capitol Building with the Senator. Richard brought up SB-5, the one that makes cities liable for bullets that leave the range as well as the range itself. He said that didn’t “sound right” and would look at it. (Many of these legislators don’t read these bills until much later in the process). Roblan said nothing off-putting about gun issues, but the few minutes we had with him was not terribly productive other than the fact that just meeting does some good in that it gets our faces and organizations out there with the representatives.

Our Sixth Meeting: Floyd Prozanski (D-4)

Rep. Prozanski represents Lane and Douglas Counties including parts of Eugene and includes Cottage Grove. He seemed guarded, speaking like the prosecutor and politician that he is, but was not at all hostile. Prozanski said he owns guns, but he is also supporting these “gun safety” bills as head of the Judiciary Committee.

One telling moment was when one of us mistakenly said to Prozanski that he was a sponsor of the now-dead, draconian SB-501. With some vehemence he repeated 6 or 7 times that he had nothing at all to do with that bill (it was Warner, not Prozanski). This was good, because it told us that there are limits to how far he might be willing to go in supporting gun bills. When asked, he said he agreed that the assault weapons and magazine capacity bills would NOT pass. He supports the concealed carry restriction bill (SB-925) and is generally anti-2A (until it becomes politically costly).

Our Seventh Meeting: Anna Williams (D-52 Gresham & Hood River)

This was the only one of the 7 appointments so far where the legislator was “too busy” to meet and pawned us off on an aide. Again, Richard represented LGC and Ilya represented Pink Pistols. This last-minute push off to an aide was disappointing, but Richard decided to go ahead with a quick meeting. Williams, the aide said, is from Wyoming and not anti gun, having grown up with them and owning them today. This “I grew up around guns and still have daddy’s old shotgun” line to prove you are not against the Second Amendment does seem to get trotted out frequently.  As expected, the aide would not clearly commit to which bills the Representative supports or opposes when those bills are “not going through the Representative’s committee.” (As a rule, they don’t do that). So, this meeting was a bit of a bust and even the otherwise important “intelligence gathering” aspect was blunted. We cut the meeting short, seeing there was nothing more to be gained.

Our Eighth Meeting: Representative Brian Clem (D21) Salem

The 8th,and last, scheduled meeting with legislators in Salem was with Representative Brian Clem (D-21) who’s district includes Salem and outlying areas. Brian identified himself as a lifelong gun owner who grew up on a farm immersed in gun culture. He says he owns 13 guns and shoots them all. So, knowing this would be a friendly meeting, Richard first told him about the club and what we are about. Richard told him of the growing gun culture among center-left non-traditional gun owners in recent years. This was all said with the aim of planting little seeds that may bear fruit later because he’s been made conscious of the fact that we exist and we vote.

As for the bills, he joined the unanimous chorus that the assault weapons ban and magazine limits are dead and going nowhere this term. SB-275 is going to pass in some form. Brian said he won’t vote for it in its present form because the penalties are too harsh. He also doesn’t like that it applies to all households and not just those with children. He wants to see the bill narrowed to apply just to households with kids. He gave the example of his elderly mother that keeps a gun in the house for protection and how the bill, as written now, would deny her that protection.

Richard brought up SB-925, the concealed carry bill that will allow schools as well as colleges and universities to ban concealed carry even with a CHL, and said that Portland State is the kind of place where One would *most* want a firearm for protection. He nodded his head, but did not comment on this.

Brian Clem is generally pro-2A and generally opposes the same bills we do, although he’s willing to “compromise” on some of the non-ban bills. We feel like our meeting was productive and have thanked him and all the representatives for their time.

This concludes this round of lobbying for our Second Amendment rights. The second round will be more targeted to influencing specific bills with specific legislators who are best positioned to effect positive changes.

The Takeaway

All of the legislators have independently told us that none of the draconian gun ban bills have any real chance of passing. The Democratic Party leadership has made clear that they do not want to spend the political capital trying to get an assault weapons bill or a magazine capacity limit bill through the legislature this term. These bills are for show for the benefit of those legislators in whose districts these anti-2A efforts play well. The most likely law to pass in some form is SB-275, the “safe gun storage bill”. Also in play is SB-925, which bans concealed carry at schools, colleges and universities, and the state Capitol Building.

The Liberal Gun Club is committed to standing up for ALL our rights. We believe, and experience so far bears out, that being liberal and progressive gun owners opens doors that would otherwise remain closed to more conventional conservative gun owners. Please join with us in our hard work to preserve protect and defend our right to keep and bear arms.  Then come to one of our range days and have some fun.