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State Senate passes bill to strip guns from stalkers, abusers

Controversial bill passed with 16 votes from Democrats. One Democrat and 12 Republicans voted against it


Capital Bureau

Published on February 22, 2018 7:37PM

Last changed on February 22, 2018 8:32PM

A controversial bill stripping gun rights from convicted stalkers and former intimate partners convicted of abuse passed the state Senate Thursday.

EO Media Group

A controversial bill stripping gun rights from convicted stalkers and former intimate partners convicted of abuse passed the state Senate Thursday.

SALEM — Gov. Kate Brown intends to sign a bill that strips gun rights from convicted stalkers and abusers, the first state gun-control legislation to pass nationally after the mass shooting at a Florida high school killed 17 people.

The governor urged lawmakers to enhance protections against gun violence in the wake of the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, the latest in a string of attacks on schools that has sparked student demonstrations across the country.

“Now’s the time to enact real change, and I’m encouraged to see students in Oregon and across the nation engaged and joining the call for gun safety legislation,” Brown said in a statement. “It’s long past time we hold the White House, Congress and legislators accountable.”

House Bill 4145 would close the so-called “boyfriend loophole” in state law that omitted stalkers and abusers in some intimate relationships from losing gun rights.

State Sen. Floyd Prozanski, D-Eugene, who presented the bill on the Senate floor Thursday, said his sister was murdered by a boyfriend with a gun and urged his colleagues to support the new protections. The legislation also would require Oregon State Police to notify other law enforcement when they learn someone has tried to obtain a gun illegally.

Brown, a Democrat, described the bill as bipartisan, and in the House, the bill did receive support from both parties. However, in the Senate, the 16-13 vote was split along party lines with one exception.

Twelve Republicans and one Democrat — Sen. Betsy Johnson, D-Scappoose — voted against the measure. Johnson, who has voted against gun control in the past, said she opposed the bill because it would give estranged dating partners a way to seek revenge. “This is no time for an emotional response,” she said.

Under existing law, only convicted abusers in domestic relationships, such as a spouse, former spouse, co-parent or live-in partner, are prohibited from having guns. The bill would expand the ban to stalkers and current and past intimate partners of all kinds.

Sen. Herman Baertschiger Jr., R-Grants Pass, said existing law already bans abusers who have been in intimate sexual relationships with their victim from buying or possessing guns. He said the language in the bill is full of “ambiguity” and would likely result in other loopholes.

A study by the Oregon Department of Justice showed that more than 16 Oregonians were killed in nine separate domestic violence incidents between Dec. 25, 2016, and Jan. 16, 2017. Not all of the fatalities involved romantic relationships. Laws aimed at keeping guns from abusers have reduced homicides of intimate partners, according to recent research published in the American Journal of Epidemiology.

Anne S. Teigen, a criminal justice expert with the National Conference of State Legislatures, told the Associated Press that the bill’s final approval in Oregon marked the first time since the Florida shooting that a state legislature has passed a gun-control measure,

Giffords, the anti-gun violence group led by former U.S. Rep. Gabby Giffords of Arizona, who was shot in an assassination attempt in 2011, praised Thursday’s Senate vote. “Oregon is continuing to step up to keep guns out of the hands of dangerous people,” said Robin Lloyd, the group’s government affairs director. “Guns and domestic violence are a particularly lethal combination that have deadly consequences. Once this bill is signed loopholes will finally be closed in state law that let domestic abusers possess guns.”

The Capital Bureau is a collaboration between EO Media Group and Pamplin Media Group.


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