Oregon Veteran & Doctor Urge Legislators to Pass Background Checks Law
87 Percent of Oregon Voters and 83 Percent of Oregon Gun Owners Support Closing Existing Loophole in State’s Background Check System for Gun Sales
Oregon Law Does Not Require Unlicensed Sellers to Do A Background Check Before A Sale
SALEM, OR – Testifying at an Oregon Senate Judiciary Committee hearing today, an Oregon veteran and doctor urged the state’s legislators to pass a bill that would close the loophole in Oregon law that allows people to buy a gun without undergoing a background check.
Dr. Jim Scott of Portland and retired United States Army intelligence officer Jeff Julum of Salem testified in support of SB 941, legislation introduced last week that would address the gap in Oregon law that allows unlicensed sellers to 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.
Both Mr. Julum and Dr. Scott are supporters of Americans for Responsible Solutions, the gun violence prevention group founded by former Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords and her husband, retired NASA astronaut Captain Mark Kelly.
”I speak to you today with a commitment to protecting both the Second Amendment rights I defended for 29 years, and the safety of our fellow Americans. As an Army officer, I have seen the danger of guns in the wrong hands, and I fully support the right of responsible, law abiding Americans to defend themselves,” said Mr. Julum, the retired Army intelligence officer, in his testimony to the Judiciary Committee. ”However, I also support healthy dose of American common sense: put people through a simple background check before they get a gun – just like I had.”
”Gun violence has reached epidemic proportions in our state and nation and should be understood and treated as a public health crisis,” said Dr. Jim Scott of Portland. ”This law will allow responsible gun owners to make sure their guns don’t end up in the hands of criminals. It will give law enforcement a critical tool to fight gun trafficking and gun violence. And, most importantly, it will save lives.”
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.
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.
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.
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.