Column: Legislators focus on needs, safety | Opinion

Second Amendment

Oregon Legislature

Work in the Legislature continues, as bills are coming out of the committees and advancing in both the House and Senate chambers. This session we have been focusing on many immediate needs of Oregonians, stemming from the pandemic and last year’s record wildfire season.

HB 2289 relates to building in areas affected by wildfire and establishes an alternative process for rebuilding properties affected by last year’s devastating fires, as well as expanding eligibility to repair or replace subsurface sewage disposal systems. This legislation seeks to remove some barriers to rebuilding, so the work can be completed as quickly as possible. HB 2289 received a unanimous floor vote and now moves to the Senate for consideration.

Earlier this month I joined with my colleagues to pass SB 554 which requires safe storage of firearms and allows public schools, municipalities and other public boards to adopt their own carry restrictions.

As a hunter, sportsman and gun owner, I was opposed to this legislation until it was rewritten to respect the rights of gun owners and uphold the U.S. 2nd Amendment’s right to bear arms. SB 554 does not make it more difficult to purchase a firearm, it requires that a gun, when not in use, or under your control, be stored safely, with a cable lock, locked storage container or in a gun safe.

The National Shooting Sports Foundation suggests that gun owners should make sure that firearms in your home are securely stored out of reach of children or other unauthorized persons. The NRA also makes recommendations for safe gun storage. The goal is to reduce access to firearms in situations where a person, especially a young person might accidentally or intentionally inflict harm to themselves or others.

My office has received numerous inquiries regarding reopening. Hospitalizations due to COVID-19 are showing a slower growth rate which has allowed Governor Brown to move 15 counties from extreme risk back to high risk and ease some health and safety restrictions.

For House District 31 that means Columbia, Multnomah and Washington counties move to the high risk category. As of Friday, indoor dining service may operate at 25% capacity. Also, gyms, museums and other indoor venues can increase their capacity levels.

This comes as welcome news for business and our communities, but health experts say the easiest way to beat the coronavirus and open business to normal capacity is to achieve herd immunity by vaccinating a minimum of 70-85% of the population.

The longer people stay unvaccinated the more likely the virus will mutate, leading to strains that might be completely resistant to vaccines or the natural immunity induced by infection.

Refusing the vaccine could impact one’s self, loved ones or the community. Even if friends and families are vaccinated, those without immunity can still carry and spread the disease. This is more important as we return to socializing at bars and restaurants, sporting events, concerts and other normal activities. Many people, such as cancer patients undergoing chemotherapy can’t be vaccinated and they are dependent on the herd to protect them.

Health experts strongly recommend that even those who have previously contracted COVID-19 should get the vaccine because the protection afforded from the vaccination will likely be longer and stronger than the immunity from being infected. We don’t know the long-term COVID-19 complications, many have suffered chronic fatigue, chest pain, shortness of breath, lung damage, and brain fog etc. for months after their infection. Here is a link to schedule a vaccine appointment:

Due to the COVID-19 health protection restrictions, the Capitol building remains closed to the public. Committee work is being done remotely, and the public is still able to weigh in on bills and other issues. This can be done in writing, by phone or by computer link-up. It has never been more important to be a part of the process.

If you have concerns or comment about a state issue, agency or proposed legislation, please contact my office. It is my privilege to represent you in the House of Representatives as we undertake this important work together.

Rep. Brad Witt serves House District 31. He may be reached at:

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