Gun control bill OK'd by Oregon; 1st since Florida shooting

2018-02-23 09:33
Nikolas Cruz, the accused in the mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, appeared in court for a status hearing. (Mike Stocker, South Florida Sun-Sentinel via AP, Pool)

Nikolas Cruz, the accused in the mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, appeared in court for a status hearing. (Mike Stocker, South Florida Sun-Sentinel via AP, Pool)

Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories

Salem — Fuelled by anguished voices in the aftermath of the Florida high school shooting, Oregon's Legislature on Thursday banned people convicted of stalking and domestic violence or under restraining orders from buying or owning firearms and ammunition.

The passage of the bill by the state Senate on a 16-13 vote appears to mark the first time a state legislature has passed a gun-control measure since the February 14 shooting in Parkland, Florida, said Anne S Teigen, a criminal justice expert with the National Conference of State Legislatures in Denver.

The measure was introduced before the Florida slayings.

Oregon Governor Kate Brown had lobbied for the bill, telling a Senate committee this week to hear the anguished voices rising in the aftermath of the Florida attack in which 17 people were killed.

The Democratic governor said she intends to sign into law the measure that the House earlier approved to protect victims of domestic violence.

Passage of the bill comes as the nation heatedly debates gun control in the wake of the Florida shooting.

A group led by former Arizona Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords, who survived a 2011 shooting that left her with a brain injury, applauded the Legislature's passing of the so-called boyfriend loophole bill.

"Oregon is taking the lead to protect communities from gun violence," said Robin Lloyd, government affairs director for Giffords' nonprofit organisation that seeks to save lives from gun violence.

Brown praised lawmakers after the bill passed both chambers, observing that "it took the voices and outrage of youth devastated by gun violence to hold decision makers' feet to the fire."

Loophole closed

The House had approved the bill in a 37-23 vote on February 15, with two Republicans including gubernatorial candidate Knute Buehler joining Democrats in voting "aye".

"I think survivors of domestic violence shouldn't have to live in fear that their abusers can obtain a firearm," Buehler had said.

Before Thursday's vote, Senator Floyd Prozanski, a Democrat from the university town of Eugene, stood and urged his colleagues to support the bill. His voice cracking, he recalled that his sister was shot dead by her boyfriend in 1973 after she said she was leaving him.

He cited statistics saying a woman is five times more likely to die if a gun is present in a domestic violence situation and 54% of mass shootings involve domestic violence.

Opponents said the law would violate Second Amendment protections on the right to bear arms. Unlawful possession of guns and ammunition is punishable by a maximum of 364 days' imprisonment, a $6 250 fine, or both.

One Democrat split from the rest of her caucus and joined the Republican senators in voting against the measure. Republicans said the bill could have been better crafted and that it was too complicated an issue to consider in the short 2018 legislative session.

The bill expands those who could be banned from owning guns and ammunition after a conviction, adding stalking as a qualifying crime, and adding those who are under a restraining order.

Supporters said the bill closed a loophole in a 2015 law that excluded some abusers, such as boyfriends who abuse partners they don't live with.

An amendment proposed by Senator Herman Baertschiger, a Republican from Grants Pass, to appropriate $20m to the state police for implementing and enforcing firearms laws was voted down on Thursday by the Senate.

"Senate Democrats rejected additional funding to the state police," said Senator Republican Leader Jackie Winters. "With additional funding, the state police would be freed up to enforce drug laws, gun laws, and increase public safety."

Read more on:    us  |  us shootings

Join the conversation! encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions.

Inside News24

Traffic Alerts
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.


Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.

Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire network.


Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.

Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.