Gun Control Bill Small Comfort For Student Activists

  A bill designed to close the “boyfriend loophole,” preventing those convicted of domestic abuse or related crimes from possessing firearms, passed earlier this week. However, gun control activists are finding it difficult to celebrate after a larger gun control package was recently killed in a deal to bring Republicans back from a walkout. 

The Oregon Senate passed House Bill 2013 (HB 2013) 25-3 on Thursday, May 23. The “boyfriend loophole” refers to when people convicted of domestic violence of stalking, who are barred from possessing weapons, simply avoid an appearing in court to turn over those weapons. The original law had no provisions allowing law enforcement to intervene, and the new bill creates these provisions.  

Gun control advocates greeted the passage of HB 2013 as a victory. According to testimony from the American Association of University Women of Oregon, dozens of women are shot and killed by their partners each month, and 4.5 million women say they have been threatened by their partners with firearms. 

Others, particularly student activists, are concerned about legislators treating the issue as politically tradeable. The core piece of gun control legislation this session, Senate Bill 978 (SB 978), included giving firearms dealers the option to raise their minimum purchasing age from 18 to 21, requiring safe storage of all guns, and made gun owners liable for guns which were lost and not reported, among many others. SB 978 was killed as part of a deal to coax Republicans Senators into returning to the Capitol after they staged a walkout, supposedly to force the state to deal with the large public pension debt.  

Some students from March For Our Lives attempted to meet with Gov. Brown on Thursday, but were rebuffed. During a press conference held by the students, 15-year-old Finn Jacobson of March For Our Lives expressed his disappointment. 

“We canvassed, we fought for the election and the reelection of a lot of these legislators,” Jacobson said. “And to see them trade away our safety like a chess piece is hurtful.” 

By Ian MacRonald