SALEM, Ore. – Everytown for Gun Safety and the Oregon chapter of Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America today applauds the Oregon State House’s passage of Senate Bill 941, legislation to require criminal background checks on all handgun sales. This victory, just six months after voters in Washington State passed background checks by ballot measure, makes Oregon the 18th state in the country to require background checks on all handgun sales. It is also the latest in a series of defeats for the gun lobby including the failure of NRA-backed priorities like guns in schools and permitless carry bills in states across the country.
“Today the legislature put the safety of Oregonians ahead of the interests of the gun lobby and closed the loophole that made it easy for dangerous people to get guns in our state – this is a resounding victory for gun sense,” said Anneliese Davis, volunteer chapter leader with the Oregon chapter of Moms Demand Action. “We have been working towards this victory for a long time – from our successful efforts to elect a gun sense majority in the Oregon legislature to showing up at the statehouse and driving thousands of calls and emails to lawmakers demanding our representatives pass the background checks that 81 percent of Oregonians support. It’s all proof that we can do more to save lives from gun violence and background checks to keep guns out of dangerous hands are the sensible first step that goes hand-in-hand with respect for the Second Amendment.”
As part of Everytown’s campaign for background checks in Oregon, the country’s largest gun violence prevention organization with more than 51,000 supporters in Oregon released original research including “Officers Down” (available here), an analysis of FBI data that revealed more than half of Oregon police shot to death in a 30-year span were murdered by people who were likely prohibited from possessing guns, and “No Questions Asked” (available here), which found that one in 18 Oregonians seeking guns in unlicensed online sales is prohibited from buying guns.
Everytown research has also found that 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 killed by intimate partners, there are 48 percent fewer gun suicides, and 48 percent fewer law enforcement officers are killed with handguns.
During the November 2014 elections Everytown for Gun Safety Action Fund strategically invested in Oregon to support grassroots organizing, direct mail, paid advertising and digital advertising to identify Gun Sense Voters and turn them out to vote. The Oregon chapter of Moms Demand Action, part of Everytown, also launched an unprecedented effort to educate and mobilize gun sense voters and remove Senators Betsy Close and Bruce Starr, who previously blocked background check legislation, from office.
Oregon Coalition Worked Together to Pass Background Checks
A coalition of Oregonians including moms, mayors, law enforcement, gun violence survivors, gun owners, veterans, faith leaders, students, public health experts and other gun violence prevention advocates came together to support SB 941 and call on legislators to pass the bill.
“This loophole has threatened the safety and security of cities across the state, including mine, allowing someone to purchase a gun without a background check, and bring it back into our community – and I am proud to see that the legislature put public safety first and closed that loophole today,” said Mayor Daroll Nicholson of Donald. “Common-sense safety laws like background checks on all gun sales will help reduce gun violence and save lives, protecting all the citizens of Oregon.”
“With today’s passage of SB 941, it will soon be much more difficult for criminals in Oregon to get guns,” said Retired Portland Police Chief Mike Reese. “That’s a win for law enforcement and all Oregonians. I applaud the legislature for closing this loophole. Background checks save lives.”
“I have testified year after year in support of closing the background check loophole, and I’m proud of our state’s leaders for their action today,” says Paul Kemp, whose brother-in-law Steve Forsyth was killed at the Clackamas Town Center shooting in 2012. “It’s my right as a law-abiding citizen to own a gun, but with rights come responsibilities. Criminals have lost that right – and today our legislators voted to close the loophole that lets criminals buy a gun from a stranger they meet online, no background check, no questions asked.”
Oregon Latest in Series of Defeats for NRA in States Across the Country
As Everytown and Moms Demand Action have become the counterweight to the gun lobby in statehouses across the country, the NRA is facing critical defeat of its legislative priorities this year. Bills the NRA supports have been introduced and failed including efforts to force guns on campus in Arkansas, Florida, South Dakota, Virginia, West Virginia and Wyoming. Further, NRA-backed legislation to let people carry hidden, loaded guns in public without a permit have been defeated already in Montana, South Dakota, Utah, and West Virginia – and a veto is expected on a permitless carry bill in New Hampshire soon.
“We said we would go toe-to-toe with the gun lobby in statehouses across the country – and today’s victory in Oregon, as well as the significant defeats of guns-in-schools and permitless carry bills in a number of states are proof positive of how we’re doing what we said we would do — and we’re winning,” said John Feinblatt, President of Everytown for Gun Safety. “Legislators will no longer be able to put the interests of the gun lobby ahead of the overwhelming majorities of Americans who demand they do more to prevent gun violence. Our more than 2.5 million supporters are showing up at statehouses, making calls and sending emails to let legislators know that we expect them to oppose extremist gun lobby proposals to weaken gun laws and pass common-sense public safety measures that will save lives from gun violence.”