Gun background-check bill passes Senate

A measure regulating the proliferation of firearms is expected to move quickly through the House.

Share this article!


A bill that would make most gun transactions subject to a background check passed the Oregon Senate on Tuesday on a 17-13 vote.

“This legislation will prevent felons from having easy access to guns by closing the loophole in Oregon’s 25-year old background check law for purchasing firearms,” said Senator Floyd Prozanski (D-Eugene) in a news release. “The ease with which felons can currently purchase guns on the internet is a serious threat to public safety. Senate Bill 941 is reasonable, well-vetted legislation that will help keep Oregon communities safe.”

House Speaker Tina Kotek indicated that the bill is expected to meet little resistance as it moves forwards, the Register-Guard reports.

Sen. Kim Thatcher, a Keizer Republican, argued that Oregon has lower crime rates than some states with tougher gun laws, such as California. Thatcher added that it’s unrealistic to think that people will comply with the new requirements. “Colleagues, we’re playing with fire by passing laws that are unenforceable,” she said. The bill “is making criminals out of otherwise law-abiding citizens.”

Sen. Elizabeth Steiner-Hayward, a Portland Democrat, countered that, even if not everyone complies with the proposed law, it still will mean more background checks on gun sales. Saying that the bill should be killed because people won’t comply “is the equivalent of saying we shouldn’t have drunk-driving laws because people will drive drunk anyway,” she said.

Debate over the bill lasted more than two-and-a-half hours.

Senate Republican Leader Ted Ferrioli, of John Day, also employed the criminals-won’t-follow-the-law line of reasoning, according to the Associated Press.

“I’ve heard this bill characterized as closing a loophole. But when criminals meet to exchange guns there’s no loophole involved. They’re just breaking the law,” said Ferrioli, R-John Day.

Oregon has become the latest battleground for gun control advocates, with a leading gun control group, backed by billionaire Michael Bloomberg, pushing the effort to get all gun sales to go through a background check. Two previous proposals to expand gun control laws in the state failed to make it to a floor vote, but last year’s election, funded in part by Bloomberg’s group Everytown for Gun Safety, saw Democrats up their majority in the Senate by two seats.

Seven states and Washington D.C., have already enacted similar laws.