Alyssa Sutton

After the recent shooting in Parkland, Florida, that claimed the lives of 17 people, legislators around the country have focused their efforts on gun restrictions and reform.

Oregon Governor Kate Brown referenced the shooting when pushing for the passage of House Bill 4145, which expands the definition of who can file an Extreme Risk Protection Order. On Feb. 15, the Oregon Senate approved HB 4145, closing a loophole in Oregon’s gun laws that allow convicted domestic abusers and stalkers to legally buy and own firearms if they aren’t married to or living with the victim and they don’t have children together.

While Brown was thrilled that the bill had passed, she said that she hoped Congress would pass more meaningful gun legislation to keep communities safe.

Senator Tim Knopp (R-Bend) had the safety of Oregon communities in mind when he introduced an amendment to Senate Bill 1543, Tuesday –– a multi-faceted bill with a main purpose of appointing advisory members to a batterers’ prevention program committee –– adding the crime of threatening to Commit a Terroristic Act to Oregon’s criminal statute.

According to a press release from Knopp’s office, there currently is a gap in Oregon law relating to people who make threats to cause mass casualties.

“If an individual makes a threat but does not take observable steps to carry out the threat, prosecutors struggle to find a statute that fits,” the press release stated. “In these cases, DAs must look to menacing, disorderly conduct and harassment charges in order to prosecute threatening individuals, and this only allows misdemeanor charges.”

Knopp said in the press release, “In the days after the horrific events at Parkland High School in Florida, Oregon experienced an up swell of violent, terroristic threats targeting schools and communities across the state. Oregon’s district attorneys are constrained by current law that fails to take into account the unique nature of threats against schools and other public gathering places. Creating a new statute to address these circumstances will go a long way in deterring future threats and punishing individuals threatening the well-being of our kids, families and communities.”

According to the release, the added amendment to the bill, if passed, would criminalize making a terroristic threat, which is a threat to commit a crime that will result in great bodily harm, regardless of whether the person intended to carry out the threat. This would create a criminal penalty commensurate with the harm caused by such a threat.

See complete story in Wednesday's Observer