A perspective from Oregon’s mid-Willamette Valley

Debate brings out gun bill’s flaws

Written May 4th, 2015 by Hasso Hering
The House broadcasts its debates online: Here's Rep. Rayfield, D-Corvallis, on SN 941.

The House broadcasts its debates online: Here’s Rep. Rayfield, D-Corvallis, on SB 941.

While the outcome was pre-ordained, Monday’s lengthy debate about Senate Bill 941 in the Oregon House was not a waste of time. It showed up flaws in this gun bill that the majority Democrats refused to fix, with the result that any number of people will be virtually forced to break the law.

The bill passed 33-27. It will require people to pass criminal background checks if they want to buy or receive a firearm from another private person.

Rep. Gail Whitsett of Klamath Falls described one problem. She and her husband, Sen. Doug Whitsett, own 17 firearms. When they leave for Salem for five months of the legislative session, they give 15 of the guns to a friend who has a secure storage. When this new law takes effect 90 days after the governor signs it, they will have to take the guns and the friend to a gun dealer, obtain background checks on the friend for each gun, pay a fee and go through the same rigmarole when they return and reclaim their collection. If they fail to do this, they are committing 15 misdemeanors each time and are subject to prosecution with the possibility, under the new law, of 15 years in prison and nearly $94,000 in fines.

So they have the choice: Get rid of their collection, keep it in their house while they’re away for months at a time (giving thieves a chance), or ignore the law and keep using the help of their friend and hope no one reports them. Uncounted numbers of Oregon gun owners will face similar though perhaps less extreme situations.

Julie Parrish, R-West Linn, probably the nicest human being in the Oregon House, said her family has an antique gun that’s been made inoperable. But because it once was capable of being fired, it’s a firearm, and if they wanted to give it away or sell it, they’d have to get and pay for a background check first.

Another Republican said that for years he had two foster children whom he taught, when they were the right age, firearms safety. Under this new law that would no longer be legal because — not being relatives — he could not “transfer” a gun into their hands without a background check.

What about the arguments in favor? Rep. Jennifer Williamson, D-Portland, who carried the bill, finished up with the story of a man who shot and killed his former wife while the kids were in the house and then killed himself. If she said how this bill would have prevented this, I didn’t hear it. But Rep. Dan Rayfield, the freshman Democrat from Corvallis, repeated the standard line: The bill might not be perfect but it’s worth it to save just one life. Really? That’s a reason to burden gun owners like the Whitsetts with impossible requirements? In a state where thousands of people die every year from natural and accidental causes, “just one life” is about the laziest argument one can make.

The Republicans also complained that the bill was given an emergency clause to prevent citizens from referring it to the voters. To Williamson, yes, it’s an emergency because women are in mortal danger from abusive men. Well then, why do the actual requirements of the bill take effect only 90 days from the effective date, just as though it was a non-emergency bill? There was no answer on that.

This bill could have been made much simpler if it had aimed strictly at gun sales and exempted different transfers such as safe-keeping arrangements and similar loans by law-abiding people. The Democrats didn’t do this right, and an increase in nominal “crimes” in Oregon will be the likely result. (hh)

7 responses to “Debate brings out gun bill’s flaws”

  1. Rhea Graham says:

    Kind of like the new Cannabis bills, they want to be sure there are still plenty in jail.

  2. Brian Berkley says:

    Trans-national Progressives are so much more Enlightened than the rest of us, and therefore must know what is best for all of us. Recall the lot of them, and make Comcast Kate a short-term un-elected memory in the next gubernatorial election!

  3. Jim Engel says:

    One more “small step” to disarm the citizens of America! Betcha the Demos next move is to register all firearms. It would make us so safe. JE

  4. Bob Woods says:

    Registration is silly. It’s a lot easier to just get the membership lists from the NRA, and the subscription lists from American Sportsman, Guns and Ammo, and the dozens of other magazines that shooters read.

    That’s a lot more targeted at passionate gun owners than just a list of all owners.

    You can probably buy most of those from direct mail marketing organizations right now, and do you really believe that their computer systems are more hack proof than, say, Sony Pictures Corporation was?

    • James Carrick says:

      Bob, you’ve repeated a very popular lie perpetrated by the lefty anti-gun crowd. The NRA keeping a database that is….. Now, where to start??? You’ve given me plenty of ammo, Bob. One problem……It’s such a well publicised lie that it gets repeated ad nauseum by liberals, as if we’re going (rogue) turncoat on the NRA? That’s laughable, Bob. No organization in this nation is as dedicated to their cause and their membership as is the NRA. It’s mutual between the membership and the administrators that run the NRA.

      I’ve been an life NRA member since I was 16 yrs old (yes, the organization is different now than it was 40 years ago….it’s better and more inclusive) and in all that time I’ve yet to be asked by the NRA in a survey (or any other way) what firearms I own, or don’t own. Nor how often I use them, or for what reason I have them. Liberals act like the NRA is some sort of “clearinghouse” or something similar with access to purchase records. Please cite your source for such mis-information….???

      I can’t say that about the State of Oregon. They have direct knowledge of exactly ONE of my handguns. I inherited some of my weapons and bought some others legally before background checks became the norm for handguns. I am in full compliance with the law, to the best of my knowledge.

      Also Bob, it’s never safe to assume that if someone buys a magazine such as Guns & Ammo, or Shooting Times that they are a firearms owner. Do I need to remind Hasso’s readers what “ASSUME” is an acronym for yet again? Just because the anti gun crowd can’t grasp certain concepts? Guilt by association? The left loves old stereotypes.

      The universal background check system has a very obvious and fatal flaw…….the system is broken and doesn’t require timely compliance by county sheriffs, etc. Reporting in many counties in Oregon is MONTHS BEHIND……due to budget restraints. As things stand now, a mentally ill person could get his diagnosis and REGISTER his new gun on the same day….Problem solved? If you say so, Bob. Feel better now?

      I am far more impressed when an active/retired police officer or deputy makes their opinion of the UBC known. Jim Engel is only one of MANY cops I have heard say these kind of measures only let the lawmakers off the hook because they can say they “did something.” after the legislative session closes.

      “We didn’t save any lives, the state is not any safer now than before…..but by golly….we DID something.” (including trampling all over the 2nd Amendment) and don’t you feel so much better now than before?” Not me…in fact, simply writing this makes me want to “call Ralph on the big phone”.(vomit).

      I also agree with Hasso about the “IF (whatever) ….saves just one life….” argument. .”If pigs could fly………….then Arnold (from “Green Acres” would be POTUS and a better one than the current occupant.

      I have a novel idea: Enforce the laws we already have on the books. INCREASE the penalties for committing a crime with a gun….( including mandatory minimum sentences) and lock these people up AWAY from society. Give them plenty of time to think about their crime(s)

      • Bob Woods says:

        James, thanks for the response. But my point remains: there’s no reason to register guns. There are enough guns in America to assume everyone has one, or 2 or 12. There are other ways to find gun owners if you want to. But no one really wants to, especially if you assume almost all families, like mine, have guns.

        The govt hasn’t tried to seize peoples guns. I’ve heard about that fear since I was a kid getting NRA training at boy scout camp. It’s a fear nothing more.

        to quote a phrase, “We have nothing to fear but fear itself.”

        • Jim Engel says:

          Mr Woods, I believe you’re missing my point. These current changes are but small steps. With other liberal “we’ll make you safe” measures building momentum and their current majority it would only take a small step & it’s law! JE


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