May 11, 2015– Former Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords and retired Navy combat veteran and NASA astronaut Capt. Mark Kelly, the Co-Founders of Americans for Responsible Solutions (ARS), issued the below statement following Oregon Governor Kate Brown’s signature of legislation making Oregon the 18th state with expanded background checks. Their statement:
“Today, Oregon became a safer place to live and joined a growing list of states that have had what Congress has not: the courage to stand up to the gun lobby. We are grateful to leaders in the legislature who sent this commonsense bill to Governor Brown’s desk – and we are grateful to Gov. Brown for making expanded background checks the law of the land in Oregon. As gun owners, we know that expanded background checks help protect the rights of law-abiding citizens – which is why 83% of gun owners support this small change to the state’s laws.
“This is a victory for responsibility and should send a clear message to leaders in Congress: if they aren’t willing to take some small, commonsense steps to keep guns out of the wrong hands, states around the country are ready to stand up for safer communities. We are proud of our organization’s work to help make this victory possible. We are also grateful to the thousands of Americans for Responsible Solutions supporters in Oregon who lobbied their elected officials, testified before the Oregon legislature and used their voice to urge their legislators to make their communities safer from gun violence.”
The bill signed into law today addresses the gap in Oregon law that lets unlicensed sellers transfer a firearm to another person, including through online sales, without a background check. Previously in Oregon, individuals must pass a background check before they can buy a gun from a licensed firearm dealer and at gun shows. While individuals can request a state background check before selling a gun to another person, Oregon did not require unlicensed sellers to conduct a background check when transferring a gun.
A recent survey of registered Oregon voters conducted on behalf of Americans for Responsible Solutions found that a broad majority of Oregonians – including gun owners – support expanded background checks for gun sales. Among the survey’s findings: 87 percent of Oregon voters support expanded background checks on gun sales, with 70 percent saying they strongly support them; and 83 percent of Oregon gun owners support expanded background checks on gun sales. Click here to read a memo on the research’s findings.
ARS PROGRAM HIGHLIGHTS: OREGON
ARS has an active advocacy program in Oregon. Highlights of the organization’s work to support the passage of background checks include:
Grassroots Organizing: Earlier this month, over 100 Oregon medical professionals who are Americans for Responsible Solutions supporters – including doctors, nurses, and public health specialists – signed a letter that was delivered to state lawmakers urging them to take action to reduce gun violence, including passing SB 941, which would close the current loophole that allows people in Oregon to buy a gun without a background check. Read more here.
Mobilizing Key Constituencies: Americans for Responsible Solutions also helped organize key constituents to testify before the Oregon Senate Judiciary Committee in favor of SB 941. Earlier this month, Dr. Jim Scott of Portland and retired United States Army intelligence officer Jeff Julum of Salem testified in support of SB 941. Both Mr. Julum and Dr. Scott are supporters of Americans for Responsible Solutions. Read more here.
Targeted Digital Education Campaign: Americans for Responsible Solutions engaged in a statewide digital campaign to educate Oregonians on gaps in current Oregon gun laws and highlight commonsense changes that can make their communities safer. The campaign, which targets more than 700,000 people in the state and will run for the duration of the legislative session, will encourage Oregonians to contact their legislator and urge them to support legislation that will help reduce gun violence. Read more here.
OVERVIEW OF BACKGROUND CHECKS LAWS
Federal Law Requires Background Checks – But Only at Licensed Firearms Dealers, Not Online and at Gun Shows. In 1993, Congress passed the Brady Handgun Violence Prevention Act into law, making background checks a requirement for federally licensed gun dealers and setting up the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS), a system of databases maintained by the Federal Bureau of Investigation. Under federal law, certain categories of dangerous individuals, known as prohibited purchasers, such as convicted felons, domestic abusers and some dangerously mentally ill people are prohibited from purchasing or possessing firearms. Under the Brady Act, when a person attempts to purchase a gun from a licensed dealer, the dealer runs a check through the NICS system to determine whether a potential buyer is prohibited from purchasing firearms. If information in NICS indicates that a person is prohibited from legally purchasing a firearm, the dealer must deny the sale.
Background Checks Are Quick and Effective – They’ve Blocked Over Two Million Potential Sales to Prohibited Purchasers. 91 percent of background checks are completed instantaneously and since the NICS system has been in place, over 196 million background checks have been conducted, and over two million firearms sales to prohibited purchasers have been denied.
States with Background Checks Have Seen Public Safety Gains. In the sixteen states and the District of Columbia that already require background checks for all handgun sales, 46 percent fewer women are shot to death by their intimate partners, there are 48 percent fewer firearms suicides and 48% fewer law enforcement officers are shot to death by handguns. When Missouri repealed its background check law in 2007 that required background checks on all handgun sales, gun homicides increased by 25 percent in the state.