Mayor Hales to push state legislature for gun reforms

Mayor Hales to push state legislature for gun reforms »Play Video
FILE - Portland Mayor Charlie Hales speaks at his swearing-in ceremony. (KATU file photo)

PORTLAND, Ore. – Mayor Charlie Hales wants state lawmakers to ban the sale of assault rifles and high-capacity magazines and has called a Monday news conference to talk about gun violence.

Both Hales and his spokesperson are keeping the details of that news conference a mystery, but on page 36 of Hales' proposed 2013 State Legislative Priorities for the city there is a plan to support statewide legislation banning assault weapons and high-capacity magazines.

At his public swearing-in, Hales signaled plans to use the Portland mayor's office to address "the access to high-powered firearms and big magazines, which we've seen tragically go against the better interest of the people in this country."

Then on Thursday, Hales posted on Facebook: "Big announcement coming Monday regarding gun violence throughout the nation. Stay tuned."

Hales has said he wants Americans to stay angry about the shootings in Connecticut and at Clackamas Town Center, but he also recognizes Oregon's gun control debate will be settled in Salem.

"It is a state legislative issue – that's where the power is on that issue," he said on the day he was sworn in. "So I'll be advocating on that as well, and I hope all four of my counsel colleagues feel the same way."

Appearing on this week's "Your Voice, Your Vote," state Sen. Mark Hass, D-Beaverton, said he's ready to talk.

"Military assault weapons – if we could limit peoples' access to those, I'd be supportive of that," he said. "The same with those magazines, I don't think there's any place – hunters don't need 60 rounds per second."

But Sen. Bruce Starr, R-Hillsboro, was more cautious.

"Can we come together on a solution that balances the need for public safety and protecting our school kids and our vulnerable populations in a way that also balances Oregonians' constitutional rights? That's the challenge," he said.

The legislative session kicks off Feb. 4, and there is legislation planned that would outlaw assault weapons and high-capacity magazines. Many firearms enthusiasts are opposed to such a ban though, questioning its effectiveness.

Hales' proposed state legislative agenda also includes calls for paid sick leave expansion statewide, limits on lottery retailers in concentrated areas, such as Hayden Island, and support for a mileage tax to offset shrinking gas tax revenues.