SALEM — Gov. Kate Brown will get a chance to sign a gun control bill she requested after the Senate voted Thursday to approve the legislation on a nearly party-line vote.
House Bill 4145 passed 16-13, with Sen. Betsy Johnson, D-Scappoose, as the only Democrat to vote with Republicans against the bill.
The bill deals with what proponents call “the boyfriend loophole” in existing law. The legislation expands the definition of those who could be barred from owning guns or ammunition because of a domestic violence conviction to include those who are not married to their victim, have a child with them, or live in the same residence.
Oregon State Police would also be required to work with local law enforcement to ensure that attempts to buy guns or ammunition illegally are reported and cataloged.
Bill opponents said the issue was too complex to be dealt with in the 35-day session.
“I voted no because the bill was rushed through the short session, and no amendments were allowed in the Senate,” said Sen. Tim Knopp, R-Bend, after the vote.
“It could have been a bipartisan bill because many of us supported elements of the legislation, but it wasn’t well-written. The majority chose partisanship and politics instead of better policy for Oregonians.”
The bill passed the House last week on a 37-23 vote, aided by votes from three Republicans, including Rep. Knute Buehler, R-Bend.
Sen. Herman Baertschiger Jr., R-Grants Pass, led arguments on the Senate floor against the bill, saying it was a rush job, trampled on gun owner rights, and didn’t add funds for the additional enforcement required. “It’s just a bunch of political chatter,” he said, adding the bill was “incomplete, unfinished and unjust.”
Johnson said she understood the atmosphere around gun control after the Feb. 14 massacre that left 17 dead in a Florida high school.
“It would be so easy to vote yes on this bill, especially after (the) events of last week,” Johnson said.
But, she said, the bill would only confuse rather than clarify definitions of domestic violence and stalking.
“The ‘boyfriend loophole’ is a catchy nickname for headline writers,” she said.
Sen. Floyd Prozanski, D-Eugene, who carried the bill on the Senate floor, said the issue was too important to delay.
“If we wait until the perfect is achieved, what damages have we done while we wait?” he asked.
Prozanski closed the debate by saying the bill had a personal meaning for him — his dead sister.
“Her murderer was her boyfriend,” he said. “Her murderer was her intimate partner. Her murderer was her domestic abuser. Her murderer killed her with a handgun. As an owner of guns for 45 years, I stand before you and say it is time for us in this Senate to take actions that are reasonable steps to protect domestic violence victims from becoming not only a fatality, but just another statistic.”
— Reporter: 541-525-5280, email@example.com