February 14th, 2014 | Kate Willson News | Posted In: Politics, Legislature, Cops and Courts

Background Check Bill Goes to Rules Committee. Again.

news1_4014ILLUSTRATION: WW Staff

Senators who feared a vote on gun control this legislative session can relax: A controversial measure expanding background checks has landed in the Rule Committee, where a nearly identify bill died last year.

Unless its biggest supporter can find the votes, the bill will go the way of its predecessor. Floyd Prozanski (D-Eugene) largely blames a fellow Democrat for its likely demise. 

"You should ask Betsy Johnson why she wants to put guns in the hands of felons," Prozanski tells WW.

Support from Johnson (D-Scappoose) would have all but assured the bill passed the Senate. Without it, Prozanski would need a Republican—and he couldn't find one who would commit.

Gun stores and shows are required to perform background checks on all aspiring gun owners. The bill would require a private individual to pay for a background check before selling or giving a gun to someone other than a family member.

Prozanski told WW earlier this month that he had the votes to pass the bill, and it would see the floor. But neither Republicans he named nor Johnson wavered in their opposition. 

“To suggest anyone would want guns in the hands of felons is so offensive,” she says. “Calling out your colleague with gratuitous attacks is no way to set up a meaningful dialogue in this very short session.”

Johnson and Senate Republicans had said they preferred to address the problem by improving mental health resources and reporting, and by implementing stricter penalties for felons who tried to buy guns. They also suggested pursuing charges against felons who tried to purchase guns.

More than 2,000 people failed background checks last year because of their criminal record. Oregon State Police did not report those attempts to law enforcement—so opponents of the background-check bill suggested lawmakers start there.

Prozanski did add an amendment requiring OSP report those attempts. He hopes that will help sway the vote.

But he’s not going to get any help from Johnson.

 
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