Oregon is poised to become the 18th state to criminalize private transfers between private buyers and sellers, including those transfers made via the Internet and at gun shows.
On Monday, the state House of Representatives narrowly approved SB 941, the Oregon Firearms Safety Act, by a vote of 32-28. Now SB 941 will head to the desk of Gov. Kate Brown, who has already signaled that she intends to sign the universal background check bill into law.
The passage of SB 941 was a huge victory for pro-gun control lawmakers as well as the many pro-gun control organizations that supported the measure.
“We know that background checks work,” said Rep. Jennifer Williamson (D-Portland), one of the bill’s chief supporters. “We know that in states already requiring background checks on private gun sales there are fewer women killed by intimate partners, fewer law enforcement officers shot protecting our communities, and lower rates of gun trafficking.”
Likewise, Rep. Dan Rayfield (D-Corvallis) touted the bill as a critical policy measure to keep guns out of the hands of prohibited persons.
“Support for the Second Amendment goes hand in hand with keeping guns out of the hands of dangerous people. That’s why federal and state law prohibits felons, domestic abusers, seriously mentally ill people, and certain other dangerous people from buying or possessing guns,” said Rayfield (D-Corvallis). “Background checks are the most systematic way to keep guns out of the hands of dangerous people.”
Meanwhile, former New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg’s organization Everytown for Gun Safety viewed the approval of SB 941 as yet another win in a long string of victories that provide further evidence that Everytown is beating the National Rifle Association in the battle over the Second Amendment.
“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,” Feinblatt continued. “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.”
It goes without saying that the NRA couldn’t have been pleased with the passage of another UBC bill. Sadly, it would appear that the background check movement is a bit like manifest destiny. It’s only a matter of time before nearly all 50 states adopt a UBC bill or the federal government passes one into law.
I don’t mean to sound like a defeatist, but in many ways the writing is on the wall. Public polls continually show overwhelming support for background checks. Bloomberg’s got billions to back the UBC moment. It is the lowest hanging fruit in terms of gun control, which is why politicians support it (gives them a sense of accomplishment, even though there’s little empirical evidence to suggest that background checks save lives). And at the federal level, Hillary Clinton is poised to take control of the White House in 2016.
The other way to look at it is the NRA has limited resources, which means it’s faced with a very simple choice: dump precious dollars into fighting what appears to be a losing battle (background checks) or save money to fight more winnable battles like expanded bans on widely popular black rifles and magazines, e.g. the New York SAFE Act.
Sure, to keep up appearances, the NRA is still going to put money into defeating background checks. But it’s going to be a lot less than what it spends on defeating other policy measures because it seems to recognize that resistance on this front is almost futile.
Ultimately, time will tell whether I’m right or wrong. Hopefully, I’m dead wrong.