OSSA “Statement on Collaborative Approach to Reducing Gun Violence”

May 31, 2018

Statement on Collaborative Approach to Reducing Gun Violence


The Oregon State Sheriffs’ Association (OSSA) and its members are strongly committed to reducing gun violence and promoting public safety in Oregon’s 36 counties. We mourn the loss of all innocent life through criminal acts involving firearms and welcome the ongoing public discussion around gun violence, including newer discussion surrounding possible gun-related ballot initiatives in Oregon. Our leading priority is the safety of our citizens, and OSSA remains a strong advocate for data driven strategies that promote responsible gun ownership. OSSA also supports proactive policies that may help identify and prevent gun violence before it occurs. We are strongly supportive of an individual’s constitutional right to bear arms while remaining committed to the strict enforcement of current gun laws and prosecution of gun-law offenders.

We are proud that Oregon has one of the lowest gun-related death rates per capita compared to other states across the nation. But no loss of innocent life is acceptable and more must be done. Toward that, the OSSA is proactively pursuing comprehensive solutions to reduce gun violence through increased and improved school safety measures; mental health awareness/intervention, resource allocation and treatment; and through the collaborative development of innovative and effective threat assessment and response teams throughout the state.

Direction Forward
Gun violence is a complex issue involving numerous causative factors. There is no simple solution. Progress toward reducing gun violence requires a blend of pragmatic, creative and proactive approaches. Toward that, the OSSA is committed (but not limited) to:

  1. Increased research and funding toward school safety and planning measures – This includes working collaboratively with schools and other stakeholders to collect and analyze data which will be used for student and faculty safety and overall emergency preparedness. This, in turn, may include measures toward enhanced emergency procedures, asset utilization, building security and early threat detection as well as continued education for faculty and students
  2. Advocacy for increased/enhanced mental health services including appropriate housing and treatment capacity Statewide– Over 40 percent of inmates in Oregon report having been diagnosed with a mental health condition, and the number is growing. Alongside legislative and other policy leaders, the OSSA will work to promote a mental health care system in Oregon that adequately addresses the growing epidemic of mental illness.  This includes earlier diagnosis, intervention, treatment and housing (including, when appropriate, hospitalization), as well as improved coordination between law enforcement and mental health care providers
  3. Development of threat assessment teams trained to identify and stop targeted violent events from occurring – by working collaboratively with other law enforcement agencies at the local, state and federal level, Mental Health Professionals, School/Educational Service Districts. OSSA is also actively pursuing the development of innovative threat assessment teams. These teams, using best practices from similar teams around the country blended with Oregon Sheriffs’ unique talents and experiences, will improve our ability to comprehensively manage, or even prevent, instances of gun violence.
  4. Provide adequate funding to the Oregon State Police for the firearm criminal background unit.

The Oregon State Sheriffs’ Association values and is committed to the rule of law and the constitutional right to gun ownership for law-abiding citizens. We value and highly encourage the ongoing public discussion around gun violence and potential solutions. However, we do not believe that abridgment of constitutional rights for law-abiding citizens is the correct approach to these complex issues, nor do we think these efforts would be effective toward reducing gun violence. While the OSSA remains committed to developing data driven, creative solutions to improve public safety and reduce gun violence in our communities, we do not support the current gun-related ballot initiatives in Oregon.

It is our highest honor to serve the citizens of Oregon. The Oregon State Sheriffs’ Association is and will remain steadfast in our efforts to protect and serve every Oregonian. We are committed to working collaboratively to develop fair solutions that honor our diverse state while promoting public safety.

Sheriff John Bishop (Ret.)
Executive Director, Oregon State Sheriffs Association

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