Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Bloomberg's Minions Win In Oregon

With apologies to all my good friends in California, Oregon, and Washington State but the Pacific Coast is not also called the Sinister Coast for nothing. Yesterday, the Oregon House of Representatives voted 32 to 28 to concur on SB 941. This follows the 17-13 vote on April 14th by the Oregon Senate to pass the bill.

Governor Kate Brown (D-OR) indicated through her spokesperson that she would be signing the bill. According to The Oregonian, she is a gun control supporter of long standing. Brown assumed the Oregon governorship when ex-Gov. John Kitzhaber (D-OR) resigned the office under a cloud of scandal. 

Senate Bill 941, according to its summary, would:
Requires private person to complete transfer of firearm by appearing with transferee before gun dealer to request criminal background check or shipping or delivering firearm to gun dealer in certain circumstances. Specifies exceptions for family members, law enforcement, inherited firearms and certain temporary transfers. Punishes violation by maximum of one year’s imprisonment, $6,250 fine, or both, or maximum of 10 years’ imprisonment, $250,000 fine, or both, for second or subsequent offense.

[Requires] Authorizes Department of State Police to notify [local] appropriate law enforcement agency when, during criminal background check performed prior to transfer of firearm, department determines that recipient is prohibited from possessing firearm.

Authorizes court to prohibit person ordered to participate in assisted outpatient treatment from purchasing or possessing firearm during period of treatment if certain criteria are met.

Declares emergency, effective on passage.
Unlike the I-594 which passed in Washington State, SB 941 is a bit more clear about what is a transfer and what isn't. The bill says a transfer is a sale, gift, loan, or lease of a firearm with certain exceptions made for "temporary transfers".  Among the exceptions are when at a range whether for just target practice or a class; when hunting; when sent to a gunsmith or someone who customizes firearms; and when loaned to prevent "imminent death or serious physical injury" but only as long as needed to prevent death or injury. I will say that last exception is a bit vague. How do you determine when the threat begins or ends?

The vote for this bill was along party lines. In the Senate, 17 out of 18 Democrats voted for the bill while all 12 Republicans plus St. Sen. Betsy Johnson (D-Scappoose) voted no. Meanwhile in the House, 32 out of 35 Democrats voted for the the bill while all 25 Republicans voted no along with Democrat Representatives Jeff Barker (D-Aloha), Caddy McKeown (D-Coos Bay), and Brad Witt (D-Clatskanie).

Excuse this tangent but what I found so striking about both houses of the Oregon Legislature is that they are so overwhelmingly white. I don't mean just predominantly white - I mean lily white or, as Procol Harum sang, a whiter shade of pale. The only minority in the State Senate is a Republican woman - Sen. Jackie Winters (R-Salem). In the House, it is barely better. Rep. Lew Frederick (D-Portland) is the only African-American while Representatives Jessica Vega Pederson (D-Portland) and Joe Gallegos (D-Hillsboro) appear to be the only Hispanics in the legislature. According to US Census figures, Oregon is 77.5% white, 2% black, 4% Asian, and 12% Hispanic which includes "white Hispanics".

If Oregon was either a Southern or conservative state or both, the Justice Department under both Eric Holder and Loretta Lynch would have been all over them demanding answers. Since it isn't, all is well.

Back on topic, I think the politicians who voted to preserve the Second Amendment rights of Oregonians should be recognized.
In the Senate: Senators Baertschiger, Boquist, Ferrioli, Girod,Hansell, Johnson, Knopp, Kruse, Olsen, Thatcher, Thomsen, Whitsett, and Winters.

In the House: Representatives McLane, Barker, Barreto, Bentz, Buehler, Davis, Esquivel, Gilliam, Hack, Hayden, Heard, Huffman, Johnson, Kennemer, Krieger, McKeown, Nearman, Olson, Parrish, Post, Smith, Sprenger, Stark, Weidner, Whisnant, Whitsett, Wilson, and Witt.

 (The Democrats are in italic)


  1. When you mentioned how white the Oregon legislature was, I remembered this very interesting article about how white the state actually is:

    1. That was interesting. I never, ever, knew that.

      By contrast, you think of a state like Utah which is presumed to white Mormon Republicans. While the state is predominately white, Mormon, and Republican, there are a number of Latino, African-American, and Asian members of the Utah Legislature. Some are Democrats and some are Republican.

    2. The guy responsible for Oregon's ban on blacks is also why California's Constitution has no RKBA clause. See http://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=2599851, and for an examination of the ineffectiveness of background check laws: http://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=2249317

  2. Be interesting to know how many of the Democrats who voted against it are from conservative leaning districts and voted no for political cover once they knew that they had the votes to pass in both houses.

    1. That would be an interesting question. I think they may have had the votes since the start. As I remember it, some pro-gun Democrats reps lost in the 2014 Democratic primaries because they were pro-gun.

  3. So a ban on loans during informal, not at a "range" plinking? And does the law sufficiently define "range", or is deliberately negating that apparent grant like I remember reading the Washington initiative did, by saying "authorized range", but not defining what those need words of art were?

    1. No, off the top of my head (IANAL, but being a responsible Oregon gun owner I've read through Oregon's gun statutes more times than I care to think about), there's no formal, legal definition of "shooting range", even though it appears a few times in the statutes. That said, the statute on "unlawful use of a weapon" (ORS 166.220) exempts (among other things) "Persons discharging firearms, blowguns, bows and arrows, crossbows or explosive devices upon public or private shooting ranges, shooting galleries or other areas designated and built for the purpose of target shooting", so by context, you can get an idea what a "shooting range" is supposed to be.

      But yes, it's a ban on loaned firearms except for direct family and their spouses or at a range, provided the range owns the firearms being loaned (this provides a loophole for rental firearms). Person-to-person loans are still considered illegal transfers unless they fall under the familial or spousal exemption, even at a range.

      Crappy, huh?

    2. "Crappy" by design, it's designed to suppress gun culture by trapping people in flypaper and hindering informal teaching. We'll see what happens with legal challenges, in Washington as I recall the authorities promised not to enforce these parts of the law.

    3. "For the purpose of hunting, trapping or target shooting, during the time in which the transferee is engaged in activities related to hunting, trapping or target shooting;" is one of the exceptions.

      That covers "at the range", even a completely informal "open spot in the woods by a hill", with no requirement of being a relative - because it doesn't mention "at a range" or any other limitation other than the activity, which is admirably broadly defined.

      (The first exception I quote is to the definition of "transfer"; such a loan is not "a transfer".

      The relative/spouse exception is for the background check on transfers.

      As I read it, the law, while bad, does not prohibit that kind of loan; no specific statutory definition of common terms is required - legal practice is to use common meaning, so long as it's unambiguous enough to not cause a Constitutional problem.

      I'm not going to be worried about running afoul of the law handing a friend a gun while plinking, though I oppose the law on principle.)

  4. So if there are any readers from Oregon and Gov. Brown hasn't signed this yet, please take my advice and light up her Contact form with pro-woman, pro-gun messages. Kate Brown made her political bread and butter - and most of her endorsements - wooing "women's rights" and "gay rights" groups. Hit her in the heartstrings with pro-self-defense stories told from a woman's perspective, and remind her that per Haynes v. U.S., no criminal can be forced to undergo background checks or register their firearms (one and the same under S.B. 941), as it's a violation of 5th Amendment rights.

    I doubt it will help sway her much, but it's worth a try.

  5. We should congratulate Oregon for resurrecting Jim Crow.