Background checks on private gun sale bill introduced

All firearm transactions, with some exclusions, would be subject to background checks.

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Every gun transaction — except between families and law enforcement — would be subject to a background check under a bill proposed Thursday by Oregon lawmakers.

A similar bill failed in 2014, the Statesman Journal reports.

Last year, the Democrats had just 16 members in the Senate, and even one “no” vote from their caucus meant the bill would fail because the vote would tie at 15-15, as none of the Republicans supported it.

This year, however, the Democrats have 18 seats in the Senate, which means one “no” vote won’t jeopardize the bill. They also have 35 seats in the House of Representatives, which leaves room from some Democrats to oppose the bill there as well.

Sens. Floyd Prozanski (D-Eugene) and Ginny Burdick (D-Portland) introduced the bill, and Democrats plan to “move quickly,” the Bend Bulletin reports.

Jenna Yuille, a gun violence survivor whose mother, Cindy, was killed in the 2012 Clackamas Town Center shooting, said, “It shouldn’t be so easy for criminals to get guns. This bill would help keep guns out of the hands of dangerous people by ensuring that all Oregonians undergo the same background check when buying a gun.” Soper, who is a founding member of the group Central Oregon Constitutional Guard, said the bill and similar proposals won’t end up making people any safer.

The proposed bill would make foregoing a background check a misdemeanor and punishable by up to a year in prison, a $6,250 fine or both. Subsequent violations could result in up to 10 years in prison, a $250,000 fine or both. Another provision would require Oregon State Police to alert a local sheriff’s office or police chief when a potential buyer has undergone a background check and has proven to be ineligible to purchase firearms. State law prevents people convicted of a felony from purchasing guns as well as residents who are committed or determined to be mentally ill.

Gun advocates are vehemently fighting the bill, the Register-Guard reports.

Opponents say background checks aren’t effective in stopping criminals from getting guns and primarily cause disruptions for law-abiding citizens. Kevin Starrett, the executive director of the Oregon Firearms Federation, say the current system delays or blocks many gun sales without a valid reason. Even when a sale is correctly blocked, Oregon State Police rarely go after the person trying to purchase a gun illegally, Starrett said.

“If we’re so concerned about background checks, why aren’t we arresting people?” he said.

The R-G writes that 1,225 gun sales were prevented by the 122,772 background checks performed between July 2014 and the end of January. From the blocked sales, 39 arrests were made and 124 citations were written.

The new law would also make it more difficult to conduct person-to-person sales over the Internet.