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How Strict Are Oregon’s Gun Control Laws? We’re All Over the Map.

Lawmakers and activists are aiming to restrict the sale of weapons. Here's where we stand now.

As debates over gun control gripped the nation this past month, Oregon lawmakers acted.

On March 5, Gov. Kate Brown signed a law closing the so-called "boyfriend loophole" by allowing police to take guns away from abusers who are subject to a stalking order or have been convicted of domestic violence and are not married to their victims.

Other ideas are gaining traction: Oregon Labor Commissioner Brad Avakian proposed to change state law this month to give stores like Walmart more legal authority to restrict gun sales to buyers over 21. A religious coalition last week launched a campaign to place a ban on some semi-automatic weapons on the November ballot.

"Young people in this country are crying out," said Pastor Mark Knutson as the Augustana Lutheran Church in Portland launched its campaign last week. "This is the moment in time where we need to step alongside them as adults and do our part with them."

Gun enthusiasts have been fighting back. As WW reported last week, a 20-year-old Gold Hill, Ore., man became the first to sue national retailers Dick's Sporting Goods and Walmart for refusing to sell him a rifle—and then another Oregon man, also aged 20, sued Fred Meyer and Bi-Mart on similar grounds ("Lawyers, Guns and Freddy's," WW, March 14, 2018).

But for now, Oregon's gun regulations are scattershot. WW explored data collected by the Boston University School of Public Health to show how Oregon fits into the national landscape of gun laws.

We found that among 50 U.S. states, Oregon's restrictions on guns are all over the map.

Overall number of gun laws: 15th
Oregon has 35 laws governing firearm sales, ownership and use. California has the most with 106 gun laws, while Alaska, Idaho and Montana are tied in last place with just four.

Ammunition regulations: 50th
Oregon ties 35 other states for last place because it has no regulations on bullet and cartridge sales.

Background checks: 2nd
Oregon is tied with Connecticut for second place (behind California), with 10 laws governing background checks.

High-risk gun buyers: 11th
Oregon comes in 11th for restrictions on sales to "high-risk" buyers, because it bars sales to anyone convicted of a felony or violent misdemeanor, and blocks sales to people with mental health disorders.

Buyer regulations: 16th
Oregon restricts gun sales to people over 18 and requires gun owners to be fingerprinted. Massachusetts does more by also barring people from buying guns for others, mandating permits for gun buyers, and requiring buyers to go through safety training.

Dealer regulations: 5th
Oregon has nine laws requiring firearm dealers to keep records and report sales to the state. That's far more red tape than most U.S. states.