Oregon Legislature Passes A Bill To Expand Gun Background Checks
Last night, advocates of gun violence prevention won a huge victory. After five hours of debate, the Oregon legislature passed a bill to expand the state’s background check law to include private gun sales—a big win for gun safety advocates who have been fighting for common sense bills like this for years. Oregon law already required background checks for gun purchases from licensed firearm dealers and at gun shows, but the new law closes a dangerous loophole that allowed many gun buyers to avoid background checks by purchasing guns from private sellers.
The passage of the law makes Oregon the 18th state to require background checks for all handgun sales. Support for criminal background checks for gun sales is high—83 percent of Oregon gun owners support expanded background checks on gun sales, and a Quinnipiac poll last year found support among all Americans for universal background checks was even higher. Gun owners support background check legislation because it has proven to be an effective way to increase gun safety:
- Background checks have prevented more than 2 million prohibited purchasers from illegally buying guns. Since the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS) was implemented in 1998, millions of attempted gun sales to prohibited purchasers have been blocked, including more than 300,000 sales to domestic abusers.
- 69 percent of criminals said they got their guns through no-background check transactions. According to a survey conducted by the Bureau of Justice Statistics, 69 percent of criminal inmates reported getting their guns from a source other than a licensed dealer, with no background check necessary. .
- States with background check legislation in place have lower rates of gun violence. States with universal background checks see 46 percent fewer gun homicides of women by intimate partners, 49 percent fewer firearm suicides, and 48 percent fewer law enforcement gun deaths.
Despite the evidence that background checks work and overwhelming public support for closing dangerous loopholes, the NRA has consistently opposed background check legislation, successfully blocking a federal background check bill in the wake of the Sandy Hook shooting. Now, however, the passage of Oregon’s bill is yet another in a string of NRA losses. In recent months the group has gone all out opposing common sense legislation and highly qualified nominees. First the group unsuccessfully fought to block the nomination of Dr. Vivek Murthy for surgeon general after he called guns a public health issue. He was confirmed in December. After that loss, the NRA took to opposing Loretta Lynch for attorney general, a fight they lost when she was confirmed last month.
BOTTOM LINE: Too many lives are lost each year because the NRA has succeeded in bullying lawmakers into opposing common sense legislation like Oregon’s background check bill has been blocked. But the passage of Oregon’s bill and the other recent NRA losses makes it clear that the organization is little more than a paper tiger and that advocates for stronger gun laws, backed by the majority of Americans, will continue to make progress to enact common sense gun laws that will help keep guns out of the hands of dangerous people.”
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