Gabby Giffords, Mark Kelly and Oregon Veterans and Doctors Call On Legislators to Pass Background Checks Bill
87 Percent of Oregon Voters and 83 Percent of Oregon Gun Owners Support Closing Existing Loopholes in State’s Background Check System
Oregon Law Does Not Require Unlicensed Sellers to Do A Background Check Before A Gun Sale
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Following the introduction of new legislation to close the loophole in Oregon law that allows people to buy guns without undergoing a background check, former Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords, retired Navy combat veteran and NASA astronaut Capt. Mark Kelly, and state leaders called on Oregon legislators to pass the bill and help keep guns in Oregon from falling into the wrong hands.
The bill, SB 941, would address the gap in Oregon law that lets unlicensed sellers transfer a firearm to another person, including through online sales, without a background check. Under current law in Oregon, individuals must pass a background check before they can buy a gun from a licensed firearm dealer and at gun shows. While individuals can request a state background check before selling a gun to another person, Oregon does not require unlicensed sellers to conduct a background check when transferring a gun.
”Every year, 30,000 Americans die from gun violence, and one reason why is because weak laws make it easier for guns to fall into the wrong hands. This new legislation gives Oregon’s lawmakers an opportunity to strengthen those laws and help keep dangerous people from having easy access to guns,” said former Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords and retired Navy combat veteran and NASA astronaut Capt. Mark Kelly, Co-Founders of Americans for Responsible Solutions. ”Responsible gun owners agree that commonsense changes in our laws can help keep guns away from the wrong people, and make our communities safer. As they debate this important legislation, we hope Oregon’s leaders keep in mind the broad and strong support among their constituents for laws like this one. We hope they do the right thing and pass this bill.”
”As both a member of our military and a civilian, I know what guns can do in the hands of responsible, law-abiding people – and I know the damage guns can do when they fall into the wrong hands,” said Lou Jaffe, LT, U.S. Army, a Vietnam veteran and Portland resident. ”With only some of the gun sales in our state subject to a background check, we need some reasonable laws that help keep guns away from dangerous people and help make sure our communities are safe. I urge our leaders in Salem to pass this commonsense bill.”
”I’ve been a doctor in Oregon for 40 years, and have seen the tragic toll that the day-in, day-out gun violence takes on Oregonians. The cost to the public’s health associated with gun violence is staggering. One thing I do when examining a public health problem is look at the data, and the data is clear: we have a gun violence problem,” said Dr. Jim Scott of Portland. ”Ensuring that all gun sales in our state are subject to a background checks can help reduce gun violence and save lives. I hope that our legislators use this chance to close this loophole in Oregon law that lets dangerous people get guns.”
Earlier this month, over 100 Oregon medical professionals who are Americans for Responsible Solutions supporters – including doctors, nurses, and public health specialists – signed a letter that was delivered to state lawmakers urging them to take action to reduce gun violence, including passing a law that would close the current loophole that allows people in Oregon to buy a gun without a background check. Read more here.
OVERVIEW OF BACKGROUND CHECKS & CURRENT OREGON LAW
Federal Law Requires Background Checks – But Only at Licensed Firearms Dealers, Not Online and at Gun Shows. In 1993, Congress passed the Brady Handgun Violence Prevention Act into law, making background checks a requirement for federally licensed gun dealers and setting up the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS), a system of databases maintained by the Federal Bureau of Investigation. Under federal law, certain categories of dangerous individuals, known as prohibited purchasers, such as convicted felons, domestic abusers and some dangerously mentally ill people are prohibited from purchasing or possessing firearms. Under the Brady Act, when a person attempts to purchase a gun from a licensed dealer, the dealer runs a check through the NICS system to determine whether a potential buyer is prohibited from purchasing firearms. If information in NICS indicates that a person is prohibited from legally purchasing a firearm, the dealer must deny the sale.
Background Checks Are Quick and Effective – They’ve Blocked Over Two Million Potential Sales to Prohibited Purchasers. 91 percent of background checks are completed instantaneously and since the NICS system has been in place, over 196 million background checks have been conducted, and over two million firearms sales to prohibited purchasers have been denied.
Recent Research Shows Oregonians – Including Gun Owners – Support Expanded Background Checks for Gun Sales. A recent survey of registered Oregon voters conducted on behalf of Americans for Responsible Solutions found that a broad majority of Oregonians – including gun owners – support expanded background checks for gun sales. Among the survey’s findings: 87 percent of Oregon voters support expanded background checks on gun sales, with 70 percent saying they strongly support them; and 83 percent of Oregon gun owners support expanded background checks on gun sales. Click here to read a memo on the research’s findings.
Oregon Law Doesn’t Require Unlicensed Sellers to Conduct A Background Check When Transferring the Gun to Another Person. Under current law in Oregon, individuals must pass a background check before they can buy a gun from a licensed firearm dealer and at gun shows. While individuals can request a state background check before selling a gun to another person, Oregon does not require unclicensed sellers to conduct a background check when transferring a gun to another person.
States with Background Checks Have Seen Public Safety Gains. In the sixteen states and the District of Columbia that already require background checks for all handgun sales, 46 percent fewer women are shot to death by their intimate partners, there are 48 percent fewer firearms suicides and 48% fewer law enforcement officers are shot to death by handguns. When Missouri repealed its background check law in 2007 that required background checks on all handgun sales, gun homicides increased by 25 percent in the state.
SUMMARY OF NEW BACKGROUND CHECKS BILL IN OREGON LEGISLATURE
SB 941 requires the completion of a criminal background check before a licensed federal firearms dealer for firearms transfers made between two private individuals except for family members, law enforcement, inherited firearms and certain temporary transfers. The legislation also requires the Department of State Police to notify local law enforcement agency when, during a criminal background check performed prior to transfer of firearm, the department determines that the recipient of the transfer is prohibited from possessing a firearm. Additionally, SB 941 authorizes the court to prohibit persons ordered to participate in assisted outpatient treatment from purchasing or possessing firearm during period of treatment if certain criteria are met.