Gun Reform Prioritized in 2017 Legislative Session

This year’s legislative session boasts a new measure that would reform the state’s gun laws by closing what some Oregon feminist groups refer to as the “boyfriend loophole,” which could effectively prohibit the physically abusive partners of both men and women from owning guns. To remove this loophole, lawmakers are rewording the old laws by broadening the definition of “domestic relationship” in the law’s text to include unmarried couples.

This bill, SB 797, will also close a second gap known as the “Charleston loophole” which allows gun sales to proceed after three business days even if the background check submitted by the purchaser and/or gun dealer is incomplete. When the new bill goes through, background checks will be required to be wholly completed before a dealer can give a buyer a gun.

On Feb. 14, SB 797 was introduced by the Oregon Alliance for Gun Safety and then referred to the President’s desk. The terms of the bill are currently being examined by the Senate Committee on Judiciary.

SB 797, despite being lauded by the members of women’s groups such as the Oregon Women’s Health and Wellness Alliance as a necessary step towards saving the lives of domestic abuse victims, has been criticized by others as an unnecessary and costly measure.

Though the intent behind closing the two loopholes is to save innocent lives, some Oregonians believe that the results of such an initiative will be no different from those of last year’s gun reform movement, most of whose action took place surrounding a new law promoted by Kate Brown and funded by New York’s Michael Bloomberg. Known as the Universal Background Check, last year’s legislation was described by many pro-gun activists as an abject failure, as most gun owners and buyers did not bother to follow any of the new rules.

Every year, the Oregon State Police releases monthly reports regarding the results of firearm background checks on the Internet. Last year, the Oregon State Police website reported that while nearly 4,000 private gun transfers were made, only 14 gun transfers were denied. Some of those 14 are apparently still being investigated, and only one person who failed to pass a background check was arrested. These statistics suggest a failure on the part of law enforcement utilizing Bloomberg’s funds to successfully end Oregon’s illegal gun trade, since hundreds – perhaps, thousands – of Oregonians are obviously still buying, selling, using, and likely abusing guns.

Most Oregon gun buyers who know they won’t pass a background check have others submit to the universal check in their place, ignoring laws and thus perpetuating attitudes that could cause Oregon lawmakers to waste even more of the state’s time and money.

Some pro-gun activists speaking out against both last year’s Universal Background Check and this year’s proposed “boyfriend loophole” fix believe that there’s more to the story than just a few wealthy politicians trying to help out Oregon with its obvious gun problems.

A well-spoken and popular conservative reporter from the Portland area who shares news anonymously on local subreddits – known only to Redditors as FidelityPDX – believes in a bigger conspiracy.

“Do not trust anything Kate Brown or Oregon democrats have to say about gun laws in Oregon,” FidelityPDX warns in a bold font, adding that Brown and her constituents are “spewing lies to get more money from New York” and “literally doing fundraising when [Brown] talks about anti-gun politics.”

While this particular activist complains mostly about money-wasting and argues against the existence of loopholes that SB 797 will protect against, the user does not appear to consider the safety and peace of mind the bill will give to the hundreds of families who are affected by illegal gun violence every day.

By Kiki Genoa

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