Oregon gun-control bill hits snag in committee

Of the Associated Press

SALEM — An Oregon bill that would require background checks for private gun sales appears to be in trouble.

The Senate Judiciary Committee was scheduled to decide Thursday whether to send the measure for a vote in the full Senate. Instead, the panel could only muster enough votes to send it to the Rules Committee, where last year a nearly identical bill withered and eventually died.

Democratic Sen. Arnie Roblan, of Coos Bay, said he couldn't support sending such a contentious bill to the full Senate when it was clear it doesn't have enough votes to pass. The short 2014 legislative session, limited to 35 days by the state constitution, was intended to focus on fixing the budget and making minor fixes to legislation, he said.

“There are times when you can do those other kinds of things,” he said after the committee hearing. “I don't think the short session is one of them.”

The bill would require gun owners to run a background check before selling or giving a gun to someone who isn't a relative. Oregon already requires background checks on sales at gun shows, even if the seller is not a licensed firearms dealer.

Senate President Peter Courtney, D-Salem, has said the bill will get a vote in the Senate, even if it doesn't have enough support to pass, if it can survive in a committee.

Republicans think Democrats want to force a full Senate vote on gun control to force GOP lawmakers in swing districts to take a tough vote that could be used against them in the election. Democrats are hoping to pick up the seats held by GOP Sens. Betsy Close, of Albany, and Bruce Starr, of Hillsboro.

Democrats say they're trying to keep guns away from people prohibited from owning them.

Sen. Diane Rosenbaum, of Portland, the No. 2 Democrat who chairs the Rules Committee, said it's too soon to know what will happen to the bill in the committee, assuming Courtney officially assigns it there.

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