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Everytown, Coalition of Oregon Moms, Law Enforcement, Gun Violence Survivors, Gun Owners, Faith Leaders, Students, Public Health Advocates Speak Out in Support of Background Checks at House Rules Committee Hearing

81% of Oregonians Support Background Checks on All Gun Sales

SALEM, Ore. – The Oregon chapter of Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America, part of Everytown for Gun Safety, came together with law enforcement leaders, gun violence survivors, gun owners, faith leaders, students, public health advocates and others today at the House Rules Committee hearing on SB 941, legislation to require background checks on all gun sales. The broad coalition of Oregonians attended the hearing today and testified in support of closing the loophole that makes it easy for convicted felons and other prohibited purchasers to get guns.

Independent polling from The Oregonian has found that 81 percent of Oregonians support background checks on all gun sales. Background checks are proven to help prevent crime and save lives. In states with background checks on all handgun sales, 46 percent fewer women are shot to death by abusive partners, there are 48 percent fewer gun suicides and 48 percent fewer law enforcement officers are killed with handguns.

Excerpts from testimony prepared for today’s hearing follow below. Please contact press@everytown.org if you would like to speak with any of these supporters of background checks in Oregon.

Ret. Portland Police Chief Mike Reese: “As the Chief I was responsible for the safety of people in the City of Portland, and for the safety of the police officers protecting our community. One of the threats I worked about most was gun violence. Keeping people safe from gun violence was one of our top priorities. I believe one of the best ways to make sure that a person buying a gun, has a legal right to own a gun, is with a simple, straightforward background check. Background checks, combined with rigorous enforcement, are the surest way to keep guns out of the hands of criminals. But right now it is far too easy in Oregon for a prohibited person to avoid a background check by simply buying a gun from an unlicensed dealer.”

Paul Kemp, gun violence survivor: “I am a strong supporter of the Second Amendment and I also believe in sensible gun laws, like SB 941. I am here to speak on behalf of my sister Carla, and her late husband Steve Forsyth, who was shot in the back of the head and murdered at the Clackamas Town Center Mall on December 11, 2012…. I am here today because I am determined that something good will come of Steve’s death, because I want you to know what gun violence does to families all across the state, and to say to you that you can help reduce gun violence by supporting SB 941. It has been more than two years since Steve’s death, and this is now my third year that I have come before the legislature to testify in support of background checks legislation. I hope you will make it my last by passing SB 941.”

Jenna Yuille, gun violence survivor: “I am here because I am determined to prevent any other family from feeling the enormous pain I felt on Tuesday, December 11, 2012, when my mom, Cindy, was shot and killed doing some last minute Christmas shopping at the Clackamas Town Center. Overtime I want to pick up the phone and give her a call, I can’t. My mom won’t be there when I get married; she won’t be there when I have my first child… her life was cut short by a senseless and preventable act of gun violence. There are common sense solutions to prevent gun violence that do not infringe on the rights of law abiding gun owners. Senate Bill 941 closes the dangerous loophole in our background checks system, ensuring that every gun purchaser undergoes a simple background check. This law will prevent dangerous criminals, domestic abusers, rapists, murderers, and the dangerously mentally ill from getting their hands on a gun—people who would do harm to themselves and others.”

Madeline Garcelon, gun violence survivor: “I don’t want any other family to have to endure the crushing pain that my family has had to go through because of a gun in the hands of a person who should have never had one. There are steps we can take to keep women like [my daughter] Nikki and all Oregonians safer. Because of the current loophole in Oregon’s background check law, right now — as I speak to you, a person as dangerous as Nikki’s ex can go online and buy a gun with no background check and no questions asked. Please take the necessary step to close this loophole by voting in support of House Bill 941.”

Ted Alcorn, Research Director for Everytown for Gun Safety: “The data demonstrate that Oregon’s background check system has blocked thousands of gun sales to criminals, but until loopholes are closed, they will continue to arm themselves in the ready online market. Requiring background checks on all gun sales will eliminate this loophole and will save lives.”