SB 554B : Schools, Portland airport, public buildings allowed to prohibit loaded, hidden guns; requires guns to be secured

Position: Support Status: Governor's Brown Desk Awaiting Her Signature

June 1, 2021: SB 554B was signed by Gov. Brown.

May 5, 2021: SB 554B was passed in the Senate and now heads to Gov. Brown's desk for her signature.

The Oregon Senate passed SB 554A but significant changes were made by including HB 2510, the gun storage bill. The bill, now called SB 554B, passed the House on April 29 and will return to the Senate for a third reading (possible vote) on May 5, 2021.

The bill authorizes city, county, metropolitan service district, port operating commercial airport, school district, college or university to adopt ordinance or policy limiting or precluding affirmative defense for possession of firearms in public buildings by concealed handgun licensees. The bill also requires firearms to be kept under close physical control or locked. The bill requires reporting of lost or stolen firearms.


June 1, 2021: SB 554B was signed by Gov. Brown.
May 5, 2021: SB 554B was passed in the Senate and is now on Gov. Brown's desk waiting for her signature.
May 4, 2021: SB 554B is scheduled for a third reading (possible vote) in the Senate on May 5, 2021. Previously, it was scheduled for June 11 then June 15.
April 29, 2021: The combined bill, now called SB 554B, was passed out of the House and returns to the Senate for consideration.
April 23, 2021: The House Rules Committee vote to pass SB 554A-36 to the House floor for consideration.
April 23, 2021: A work session and possible vote is scheduled for April 23 at 11:00 AM.
April 19, 2021: A public hearing is scheduled for April 21, 2021 at 1:00 PM and a work session is scheduled for April 22 at 8 AM and April 23 at 11 AM.
March 30, 2021: First reading scheduled in the House.
March 25, 2021: Passed on the floor of the Oregon Senate. The bill will now move to the Oregon House for consideration.
Scheduled for third reading and possible vote on March 25.
Feb 25, 2021: SB 554 passed the Senate Judiciary Committee with a "do pass" recommendation with a -10 amendment.
Feb 25, 2021 Work session held
Feb 22, 2021: Hearing held
Jan 19, 2021: Referred to Senate Judiciary and Ballot Measure 110 Implementation
Jan 11, 2021: Introduced Chief Sponsors: Senator Burdick, Manning Jr, and Wagner, Representatives Prusak and Reynolds Regular Sponsors:Senator Dembrow, Frederick, Prozanski, Steiner Hayward, Taylor, Representative Dexter

June 1, 2021: SB 554B  was signed by Gov. Brown.

May 5, 2021: SB 554B was passed in the Senate and now heads to Gov. Brown’s desk for her signature.

SB 554A was originally concerned with giving control of security to public entities including schools, universities, the Portland airport, and state buildings including the Oregon Capitol Building. The new amendments bring significant changes including adding the contents of HB 2510, the gun storage bill, into SB 554A.

Some of the amendments include repealing pre-emption to allow counties and municipalities to prohibit open carry of guns in parks and other places.  Rep. Smith’s amendment, SB554-A12 calls for concealed handgun license reciprocity. Some amendments do not allow public schools to determine to prohibit concealed, loaded guns in K-12 classrooms. The amendments are wide ranging.

Some legislators are demanding data that show concealed handgun license (CHL) holders are committing crimes.  The gun lobby and Oregon legislature locked up access to that information in 2012. The Oregon legislature obliged the gun lobby in 2012 with HB 4045 which makes CHL holders’ information unavailable to the public and, therefore, unavailable to researchers. According to data from Oregon State Police, Oregon has 276,327 valid concealed handgun license holders as of May 2019. Those CHLs are not translating into a decrease in crime. In fact, the latest rise in gun sales has brought an increase in fatal shootings.

CHL is not reducing gun violence.

Senator Thatcher, in opposition to SB 554, cited economist John Lott’s erroneous claim that 16.5% of CHL holders stop active shooters. According to GVPedia, Lott’s false claim about the FBI’s report, “A Study of Active Shooter Incidents in the United States Between 2000 and 2013,” stems from a fundamental mistake: the report studies active-shooting incidents while Lott discusses mass shootings and mass murders.

Lott claims that the FBI intentionally omits mass shooting incidents from earlier in the study period and includes too many incidents near the end of the study period to make mass shootings appear to have increased. However, Lott’s critique completely misses the entire point of the study: The FBI report examined active-shooting incidents, while Lott discusses mass shootings.
The FBI study’s authors wrote a rebuttal in Academy of Criminal Justice Sciences Today (ACJS) stating “Lott’s essential argument is a straw man; he accuses us of saying something that we did not and then attempts to show this is wrong.”

Oregon bill SB 554A was passed out of the Oregon Senate on March 25, 2021. Oregon Democratic Senators Burdick, Prozanski, Manning, and Steiner Hayward courageously and brilliantly defended this bill against opposition by Republicans.

Democratic Senator Betsey Johnson voted against the bill.

Oregonians who have a permit to carry a concealed firearm (called a concealed handgun license or CHL) are allowed to carry loaded, hidden firearms into all public Oregon schools including grades K-12, community colleges, and on most areas of colleges within the Oregon University System. CHL holders are also allowed to carry loaded, hidden firearms into parts of airports and into the Oregon Capitol building.

Under SB 554-10, law enforcement officers (both current and retired) will still be permitted to carry a gun in the Capitol, which is likely to mean some legislators will carry their weapons. The bill is still a vast improvement in safety in the Oregon State Capitol Building.

In the aftermath of the December 2020 attack on the Oregon Capitol by armed domestic terrorists and the complicit nature of Rep. Mike Nearman (who opened the door for the domestic terrorists), as well as Senator Boquist’s threats to shoot Oregon State Police, banning all civilian possession of firearms in the Oregon State Capitol as well as public school, the Portland airport, and other public buildings is an action Oregon legislators must take to prevent future firearm injury or death at those locations.

At the Umpqua Community College shooting on October 1, 2015, an armed CHL holder was on campus but not able to stop–or prevent–the shooting deaths of nine people and left nine others injured.

The Oregon University System banned guns in the 1970s, but a 1989 concealed firearm law gave only the state’s Legislature permission to make laws on almost all aspects of firearm ownership including possession. The law was challenged in 2009 by a Western Oregon University student with a CHL who was suspended for bringing a concealed handgun on campus.

The Oregon Court of Appeals ruled in 2011 that the university system’s ban was beyond its authority and therefore invalid. Concealed carry permit holders could bring weapons on campus but could not openly display the gun.

Oregon State Senator Kim Thatcher (R) issued a Minority Report calling for “The Legislative Policy and Research Director shall conduct a survey of all scientific and evidence-based data, pertaining to the United States, regarding the effectiveness of gun-free zones as a credible and reliable deterrent against violent criminals with malicious intent to do harm.”

Most of the myth regarding “gun-free” zones stems from researcher John Lott who claimed that 98% or more of mass shootings from 1950 to the present occurred in gun-free zones. The following is from GVPedia:

  • Lott’s false claim is based on a basic error. For the period 1977–1997, Lott counts each individual mass shooting death as an entire mass shooting incident.
  • Even after Lott corrected his mistake, he made a new claim that 94% of mass shootings occurred in gun-free places, which is also based on flawed data and contradicts other research that concludes that 12% to 13% of mass shootings occur where guns are prohibited.