Oregon To Expand Background Checks On Gun Purchases

| by Ethan Brown
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The Oregon state legislature passed new legislation on May 4 that expands background checks for nearly all gun sales in the state, despite previous legislation being voted down twice in the past.

Recently appointed Governor Kate Brown, a Democrat, has voiced her support for the measure. Brown was appointed to the position after former Gov. John Kitzhaber, also a Democrat, resigned due to personal issues.

If the law is passed, Oregon would become the eighth state in the nation to increase background checks on firearm sales, The Guardian reported.

The legislation, formally titled Senate Bill 941, passed the Oregon state House of Representatives by a 32-28 vote. More specifically, the bill requires background checks on sales and transfers of firearms, exempting trades that occur between close family members, such as siblings and spouses. Other exemptions would include sharing a gun while hunting or sharing a firearm at a shooting range.

All 25 Republicans in the state House voted against the measure, with three Democrats joining the dissenters.

Republicans have been quite vocal about their opposition to the measure, joining gun rights groups in their campaign against the issue.

“Senate Bill 941, worse than doing nothing, giving false hope, because it represents to people that felons are not going to get guns. And colleagues, I think we all know that’s not true. They are going to get them one way or another,” Mike McLane, the top Republican in the House, said.

If the law is violated by citizens, monetary damages will be the first punishment. A first offense may see violators in jail for up to one year and pay a fine of $6,250. A second offense, now a felony, carries a potential of up to 10 years behind bars and a fine of $250,000.

The new law also gives judges the authority to bar citizens receiving mental health treatment from purchasing a weapon, if the judge considers the person a threat to themselves or others, the Portland Sun Times said.

“This bill is not about stopping all gun violence in Oregon, and it’s not about taking guns of the hands of law-abiding citizens. It’s about keeping guns out of the hands of domestic abusers, those suffering from mental health crisis, and convicted felons,” said Jennifer Williamson, a state Democratic member of the House.

The bill will now head to Gov. Brown's desk to be signed.

Sources: Portland Sun Times, Associated Press via The Guardian

Photo Credit: Walter/Flickr, WikiCommons