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Oregon Dems silence crime expert as they push gun control bill: 'What are they afraid of?'

A crime and gun expert was denied a chance to testify during an Oregon Senate hearing on gun control, and a Republican called it a “prime example of censorship.”

Emails obtained by Fox News Digital show the chair of the Oregon state Senate Judiciary Committee forbade John Lott, an economist and founder of the Crime Prevention Research Center, from speaking at a hearing last week on a Democratic-backed gun bill. 

“After reviewing the following articles, I do not feel comfortable having Mr. Lott as part of the invited testimony during the informational hearing on SB 348,” Democratic state Sen. Floyd Prozanski, chair of the Oregon state Senate Judiciary Committee, wrote in an email to Republican state Sen. Dennis Linthicum. Prozanski cited articles from Media Matters and The Trace as reasons why Lott was denied. 

Oregon voters narrowly passed a ballot measure last year, Measure 114, that banned ammunition magazines that hold more than 10 rounds and required the creation of a permit-to-purchase program. Measure 114 was subsequently targeted by lawsuits from Second Amendment groups, including the NRA, and is still tied up in court.

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Democratic state Sen. Floyd Prozanski and Republican state Sen. Dennis Linthicum.

Democratic state Sen. Floyd Prozanski and Republican state Sen. Dennis Linthicum. (Oregon State Legislature)

Now, state Democrats have introduced S.B. 348, which amends portions of Measure 114 but would actually essentially replace it. If passed, the bill would also ban magazines with a capacity of greater than 10 rounds of ammo, require residents to take mandatory training, maintain a state registry of gun owners and require residents pay fees to get a permit.

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The Oregon Senate Judiciary Committee held a recent hearing regarding the new bill, and Republicans invited Lott to appear and offer insight on the legislation. Instead of accepting Lott to present testimony during the invited portion of the public meeting, Prozanski told Linthicum Lott could present comments during the public portion of the meeting.

Linthicum told Fox News Digital the decision wasn’t surprising, calling it “the typical outgrowth flourishing within Oregon’s long-standing, one-party Democrat majority rule.”

Dr. John Lott testifies before the Subcommittee on Crime, Terrorism, and Homeland Security in December 2022. 

Dr. John Lott testifies before the Subcommittee on Crime, Terrorism, and Homeland Security in December 2022.  (Congress.gov)

“It is a prime example of censorship based upon invalid or extremely biased accusations instead of the rightful analysis of the logic, observational data and analysis that Dr. Lott can provide,” the Oregon Republican said. 

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Linthicum pointed to how, over just the last six weeks, Lott “testified before the Colorado state Senate, the Vermont state Senate, the Maryland state Senate, the Tennessee state Senate and the Michigan state House and Senate.” In December, Lott testified before the U.S. House Judiciary Committee.

Lott has a Ph.D. in economics from UCLA and has held teaching positions at esteemed universities like the University of Chicago, Yale, Stanford and Wharton. He previously served as the chief economist for the United States Sentencing Commission and as a senior adviser for research and statistics at the DOJ. 

“Dr. Lott is a credible source,” Linthicum said.

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Lott said he doesn’t operate as a lobbyist and only testifies when invited by legislators on a committee.

An official with Prozanski’s office denied Lott was blocked from testifying, noting he was offered the chance to speak during the public portion of the hearing.

“As Floyd informed Sen Linthicum, Dr. Lott will be given opportunity to testify during the public hearing,” Prozanski’s office said. The office did not respond to a follow-up question regarding how Lott was specifically denied presenting testimony during the invited portion of the hearing.

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When Fox News Digital spoke to Lott about the situation, Lott asked, “What are they afraid of?”

“Are they afraid that people are going to point out that this law is racist and sexist and going to actually put people’s lives in jeopardy?” Lott said.

Guns are displayed at a shop in Salem, Ore., Feb. 19, 2021.

Guns are displayed at a shop in Salem, Ore., Feb. 19, 2021. (AP Photo/Andrew Selsky, File)

Lott said he would have cautioned that the bill will likely face court challenges if passed and will also pile costs on Americans trying to get permits in the state, ultimately hurting those trying to protect themselves.

Under S.B. 348, law enforcement in the state would have 60 days to approve or deny a permit, which is double the amount of time police have under Measure 114. Lott said that this extended period of time will mean citizens may have to wait “90 days, 120” until they can actually arm themselves.

He said if “you’re a woman who’s being stalked or threatened, you may not have 90 or 100 days, even 60 days, to be able to go and get a gun to be able to go and protect yourself.”

The bill would also require those seeking to own a gun to pay fees that are even more expensive than the ones in Measure 114. People would have to pay $150 for new permits and $110 for renewals, in addition to training fees.

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Lott said such laws hurt poor Americans living in high-crime areas most, while wealthy residents aren’t as affected by such fees.

“The people who are most likely victims of violent crime — and that’s overwhelmingly poor Blacks who live in high crime urban areas — benefit the most from being able to go protect themselves,” Lott said.

Customers wait in line at Northwest Armory Dec. 6, 2022, in Milwaukie, Ore.

Customers wait in line at Northwest Armory Dec. 6, 2022, in Milwaukie, Ore. (Hannah Ray Lambert/Fox News Digital)

“This bill basically makes it so that only wealthy Whites who live in the suburbs are going to be the ones who are going to be able to get a concealed carry permit and carry,” Lott said. “Which I’m glad they can protect themselves, but they’re not the ones who are most at risk.”

Lott blasted Democrats, saying they work to silence those with differing viewpoints beyond just Second Amendment issues.

“They don’t want to have an open debate,” Lott said. 

Lott ultimately presented during the public testimony portion of the hearing, but time was “very limited,” and even when members of the public offered to yield their allotted two minutes to Lott, the ranking Democrat shut the requests down, Lott said.

“Even worse, the Democrat chair wouldn’t allow the Republican senators to ask me questions,” Lott said, despite indications from Republicans that they had questions for him.

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SB 348 is now in the Senate committee, according to the Oregon State Legislature. 

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