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Oregonians emphatically demand gun violence prevention reforms

By Penny Okamoto, Executive Director of Ceasefire Oregon

Last week, Oregon voters delivered an emphatic message to our legislators: Oregonians want to end gun violence! We demand common sense gun laws and we will vote out legislators who refuse to take simple steps to keep guns away from criminals.

You helped create a huge victory for gun violence prevention last night! Thank you! Thousands of you stood up to the gun lobby and paved the way for a strong background checks bill in 2015 in Oregon.

Here are the great wins from Oregon and Washington:
Sara Gelser in Senate District 8, a supporter of background checks, was voted into office. Ceasefire Oregon supporters made phone calls and canvassed to help elect Sara Gelser. Her opponent, incumbent Betsy Close, was swept out. Close not only voted against background checks but she also took $10,000 from the Oregon Firearms Federation PAC, a gun lobby group.
Washington passed I-594 which will expand background checks in Washington State on nearly all gun sales. Washington voters overwhelmingly voted for Initiative 594. At the same time, voters resoundingly rejected I-591, an NRA driven measure designed to weaken Washington state laws.

Chuck Riley’s race in Washington County’s Senate District 15 against incumbent Bruce Starr has not yet been called. Ceasefire Oregon volunteers took part in canvasses and phone banks organized by Everytown for Gun Sense and Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America. Our special thanks to Everytown and Moms Demand Action.

Four amazing gun violence survivors canvassed with Everytown. Colin Goddard who survived 4 bullet wounds at the Virginia Tech massacre, Mary Reed who suffered 3 bullets wounds in Tucson while using her own body to shield her daughter, Neil Heslin whose son was killed at Sandy Hook, and Ashley Cech whose mother heroically saved students and staff at Sandy Hook.

Other great wins for gun violence prevention are:
Governor John Kitzhaber
U.S. Senator Jeff Merkley
State Senator Alan Bates
Representative Joe Gallegos
Representative Shemia Fagan

The gun lobby has long thought their endorsements can change an election but they were proven wrong yet again last night. Here are some of the candidates who were backed by gun lobbies or who opposed background checks and lost:
Dennis Richardson, candidate for Governor, lost
Monica Wehby, candidate for Senator, lost
Casey Runyan, candidate for Oregon House District 9, lost
Betsy Close, candidate for Oregon Senate District 8, lost

The 2014 election has been a great victory for gun violence prevention and would not have happened with you.

Our thanks to all of you who called, canvassed, talked to your friends and voted for legislators who will support common sense gun laws. The road has been paved and now we can move forward to reduce gun violence. Oregonians will be safer now because of your work. Thank you!

Penny, Joanne and the entire Ceasefire Oregon Team.