Oregon Senate Democrats disinvited economist and gun rights researcher John Lott from a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing based on criticism from anti-gun online publications.
Democratic State Sen. Floyd Prozanski “had read something from Media Matters attacking me and said I didn’t have the credentials to be an expert,” Lott told The Epoch Times.
Lott had been invited by Republican State Sen. John Linthicum to testify as an expert witness in an April 6 hearing on SB 348, which would increase the requirements of Ballot Measure 114, approved by voters in November 2022 but is now tied up in the courts.
Linthicum had asked Lott, who has extensive experience studying the effect of gun control laws on society, to explain how SB 348 would impact Oregonians. Lott said that, as he was on his way, he received a call from Linthicum telling him that Prozanski had decided not to allow Lott to testify.
Prozanski then called a witness from the National Shooting Sports Foundation (NSSF) to testify for the Republicans. Lott said he had never had this happen before.
“Basically, the Democratic committee decided for the Republicans who their experts would be,” Lott said.
Lott is not convinced the online articles were the true reason he was rejected. He pointed out that Media Matters has been critical of all pro-gun organizations, including the NRA and NSSF.
“If that’s the basis he uses, then he would have [told the NSSF] ‘You guys are also disqualified,’” Lott said.
He said the decision was a missed opportunity for both sides of the debate.
“That’s the kind of stuff I would have wanted to have a discussion over,” Lott said.
Lott was allowed to speak for a little over two minutes during the public comments portion of the hearing. However, he was not allowed to answer questions or accept extra time to speak from other witnesses.
The Democratic sponsors of SB 348 claim the legislation will reduce crime and make Oregon safer. Lott disagrees, saying the bill would actually hurt the most vulnerable in society.
SB 348 retains Measure 114’s permit requirements but raises the application fee from $65 to $150. The renewal fee is increased from $50 to $110. It also extends the time limit for an agent to approve a permit from 30 to 60 days.
It keeps the so-called high-capacity magazine ban and the safety course requirement. It imposes a 72-hour waiting period before the transfer of a firearm from a dealer to a buyer can take place.
During his two minutes, Lott said the increased fees combined with the cost of required training and other expenses would drive the total cost higher than $500. The waiting periods and extended time limit would leave many without protection when they may need it most.
“You’re not stopping wealthy whites who may live in the suburbs,” Lott told the committee.
“You’re going to be stopping the very people who need them the most for protection; poor blacks who live in high-crime urban areas.”