Oregon Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum met with a group of about a dozen University of Oregon students in the Knight Library on Thursday to discuss gun control and the state’s gun laws.
At the beginning of the discussion, Rosenblum passed out one-page flyers explaining Oregon’s so-called “Red Flag Law.” The law allows a concerned spouse, intimate partner (such as a significant other), parent, sibling or family member to petition a county court to take a firearm from someone who presents a danger to themselves or others. Before any firearm is confiscated, a hearing is held by a court the same day or within 24 hours. If approved by the court, the order is effective for one year.
“Maybe people didn’t know that the law existed and the idea is to get the word out,” Rosenblum said. “We are getting it into the hands of as many people as possible.”
In addition to the Red Flag Law, Oregon recently closed the “boyfriend loophole,” which previously allowed intimate partners convicted of domestic abuse to purchase a firearm.
During the hour-long discussion, which was not heavily publicized, students shared their thoughts and concerns about gun control with Rosenblum. Some students found that the lack of publicity added to the authenticity of the conversation.
“I thought that [the] attorney general was very down-to-earth, and she was definitely herself, and I personally appreciated that because in politics it can be different and people aren’t who they appear to be,” said Jaria Martin, a senior majoring in family and human services. “I’m glad that the space was created in the first place for her to sit down with us and hear from us.”
Lauren Walker, a sophomore psychology major, said that the group could have been more representative of the student body.
“I think it would have been nice if it was more publicized,” Walker said. “However, I felt that she genuinely wanted to listen to students and wasn’t doing it for the publicity.”
While Rosenblum started the conversation by discussing the new Red Flag Law, students brought up related topics such as mental health and the overlap between gun violence and police brutality.
“I think it was important that the topic of police brutality came up because it’s so prevalent today, and I think the attorney general understands that,” Martin said. “I think she realizes that although we’re a ‘blue state,’ racial violence and gun violence happens in Oregon.”
Members of the College Democrats joined Rosenblum to share their insights, but no members of the College Republicans attended the discussion. Justin Myhre, the College Republicans president, said that the group was not aware of the meeting but would be happy to have a conversation about gun control with Rosenblum.
In an interview with the Daily Emerald, Rosenblum, a Democrat, said that she wants to hear what UO students who identify as Republican have to say.
“I would be delighted to have a conversation with College Republicans,” Rosenblum said. “I’m hopeful that Republican and Democratic students can work together to help solve this scourge. It’s a safety issue — that’s why I call it gun safety and not gun control. No one wants to feel unsafe.”
Rosenblum said that students and young people help to keep public officials such as herself accountable.
“Our students are a great voice and force. At first, I didn’t want to bother them, but I need them and I need the voices of young people,” she said. “They help keep me accountable and make sure I am doing my job.”